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The Institute of Museum and Library Services through an Indiana State Library LSTA Grant
City of Vincennes,
FROM 1702 TO 1901
HENRY S. CAUTHORN
OCTOBER 15, 1901.
THE ARTHUR H. CLARK COMPANY
Garfield Building, . . Cleveland, Ohio
By MAEGAEET CLOTILDA Cauthoen.
Mooee & Langen Printing Co.
teeee haute, ind.
I propose to write a history of Vincennes, Indiana. This
place is the oldest town within the limits of the State of In-
diana. With the exception of Detroit, Michigan, which was
settled by the French in 1670, and of Kaskaskia, Illinois,
which was also settled by the French in 1673, it is the oldest
town in that vast territorial expanse formerly known as ''The
Territory Northwest of the Elver Ohio,"' out of which the five
great States of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wis-
consin have been formed.
In the preparation of the history I will gather material
from authentic and reliable sources. Of course some data
which I will use have already found their way into print and
are now part of the general history of the country. In addi-
tion thereto I will consult and be aided by many manuscript
documents by learned and truthful men which have never as
yet been published. I will also obtain valuable information
from the writings of Bishop Brute, the first Catholic Bishop
of Yincennes, from the files of the Western Sun newspaper
embracing the y ears 1807 to 1845, the records of St. Francis
Xavier Cathedral, reaching from April, 1719, to the present,
and will trust reliable and well authenticated traditions, and
also matters within my own personal knowledge with a re-
ceptive and retentive memory covering a period of at least
I will endeavor to make the recital both pleasing and inter-
esting to the reader, and hope to contribute some historic
matter concerning the place and its antecedents which have
never yet been accessible to the general reader. And above all
will endeavor to make the presentation of facts and incidents
both truthful and reliable.
HENBY S. CAUTHOBX.
Vincennes, October 15, 1901.
1. Location 11
2. Topography 15
3. Environments 19
4. Landmarks . 24
5. The Old Fort 32
6. Creole Customs 40
7. Courts 46
8. Municipal 51
9. Police 54
10. Newspapers 57
11. Antiquities (13
12. Clark's Kaskaskia Campaign 79
13. Clark's St. Vincents Campaign 90
14. Fire Protection 110
15. Religion 114
16. Finance . 131
17. Corporations 135
18. Agriculture 139
19. Commerce 144
20. Fraternities 148
21. Education 152
22. Manufactures 157
23. Material Progress 161
24 Personal Mention 167
25. Distinguished Personnel 170
26. Partial List of Prominent Citizens Subsequent to 1800 . . 215
27. Conclusion 219
City Hall Frontispiece
Harrison House In Chapter IV
Old Fort In Chapter V
Court House • ... In Chapter VII
Old Catholic Church In Chapter XI
Churches In Notices in Chapter XV
Individual Pictures In Notices in Chapter XXV
A HISTORY OF VINCENNES.
Vincennes is situated on the east bank of the Wabash River
150 miles above its junction with the Ohio. It is distant 192
miles west of Cincinnati, Ohio; 151 miles east of St. Louis,
Missouri; 236 miles south of Chicago, Illinois; 51 miles north
of the Ohio River at Evansville, and 117 miles southwest of
Indianapolis, the capital of the State of Indiana.
The United States Government in 1883 made an accurate
geodetic survey of the United States. Vincennes was se-
lected as one of the stations for observation. The station herb-
was located near the geographical centre of the town in the
Court House yard off the northeast side of the Court House
and is marked by three stones set in concrete, the centre one
nearly flush with the surface and bearing an "X" mark. Lat-
itude of the station point, 38° 40' 39". Longitude west of
Greenwich, 5 h, 50 min, .0888 sec, or 87° 31' 28".
It is situated on high grounds beyond the possible reach of
inundation and is bounded on the northeast and southwest
by beautiful and fertile prairies, and on the southeast by a
picturesque range of hills covered in part by forest trees and
presenting from the city an attractive and pleasing landscape
The location is peculiarly fortunate and safe, occupying as
it does a level depression surrounded on most sides by elevated
grounds and hills which protect it from the chiliv blasts of
winter and the destructive storms of summer so prevalent and
12 A History op Vincennes.
desolating in portions of the west. The surrounding hills
operate as a bulwark to divert and elevate the course of pass-
ing winds and thus shield and protect it from their fury, so
that during the long period of time the site has been the home
of civilization no occasion for alarm has been furnished and
not the least damage has been clone to life or property within
its limits on this account. It has numbered among: its struc-
tures, steeples and towers insecurely anchored, but which
stood for years unharmed and until removed by design.
Vincennes in early times was a fine field for sportsmen. As
late as 1852 the quail in the fall of the year invaded the town
and as many as desired could be killed without leaving its
corporate limits. And during the same time prairie chickens*
were so numerous that as many as sufficient to satisfy the
most grasping sportsman could be killed in its immediate
There are on the southeast side of the city three beautiful
mounds, the most noted and picturesque evidences of the
work of the mound builders to be found anywhere. These
mounds overlook and are in full view from the city. The.}
add much to the physical appearance and beauty of the loca-
tion, and are in fact a handsome background, and from their
summits the best view of the city can be obtained. And when
viewed from their heights, the city, located as it is upon a
level plain, and the streets on either side ornamented with
shade trees, appears to advantage and seems as if located in
one large, unbroken forest.
There is a fiction connected with these mounds that Gen.
Clark, when he approached the place in February, 1779,
marched his troops around one of them in a circle many times
to impress the inhabitants with the magnitude of his force.
No such performance ever took place. Gen. Clark says in his
account that he did not wish to surprise the people. He met
two Frenchmen of the village when he was at Warrior's Is-
land, two miles below the place, and by them sent a message
to the inhabitants of the town to the effect that he did not
wish to surprise them, and warning all who were friendly to
the "hair buyer" general, as he called Hamilton, to join him
in the fort. Warrior's Island in the prairie two miles below
Vincennes was in full view of the town and his force could
be seen and numbered there, and any such performance as
marching around one of the mounds to create a false impres-
sion of his force would have been detected and inspired merit-
ed contempt and disgust. This alleged performance may be
credited to many others designed to magnify the exploits of
Clark and invest them with colors of romance akin to the
deeds of chivalry. Gen. Clark himself says in his report
that when he sent his message to the inhabitants of the town
by the two Frenchmen from Warrior's Island that he knew
that the French inhabitants were friendly to him, as was also
"'"'Tobacco's Son," the most powerful Indian chief in the coun-
try. It seems cruel to spoil this romantic story, but regard
for truth compels it to be done.
The streets of the city are all level and graded with gravel
containing a co-hesive substance which when first taken from
its bed is of a dull red color, but upon exposure to the air soon
cements and makes a hard and substantial road bed, and also
bleaches and presents a bright and shining appearance, and
gives the city streets the appearance of threads of silver wind-
ing through shaded avenues.
The sidewalks are as level as a sheet of paper, and when
improved with granitoid, of which many miles have already
been constructed, and many more miles are being added each
year, gives the city sidewalks that cannot be surpassed any-
where, and but rarely equaled.
The site of Vincennes has always -been admired and praised
by all travellers, who ever visited the place. Count Volney in
his account of his travels refers to it as a garden spot remind-
14 A History of Vincennes.
ing Mm of some of the vine-clad provinces of France. It was
in 1796 that he visited, the place, and he says the village on
all sides was surrounded by the most luxurious vineyards from
which abundance of the purest wines were made by the
villagers, and that the prairies adjoining the village were cov-
ered with the finest fruit orchards he ever saw. This condi-
tion as to the fruit orchards continued in the lower prairies
until within the memory of men still living. But the vine-
yards and orchards have now disappeared and their places
have been given up to the cultivation of wheat and corn. Mr.
Scott, in a gazetteer, published in 1793, says that a pleasant
wine was made here of old.
In 1765 Col. Croghan came here to treat with the Miami
and Illinois tribes. In his report he praised Post Vincennes
as "one of the finest situations that can be found." He praised
the soil as very rich, "producing wheat and tobacco, and that
the tobacco raised here is preferable and superior to that of
Maryland and Virginia, and that Post Vincennes is a place
of great importance for trade."
William H. English, when he first visited the place in 1891,
thus speaks of it in his history of the Northwest:
"In addition to its early settlement and the multitude of
interesting incidents connected with its history, its location
and surroundings are so attractive that one can readily under-
stand why it was a favorite of the Indians in the earliest
times, and subsequently of the French and others of the white
race. There are few places where life at all periods has been
more thoroughly and philosophically enjoyed than at the
'Old Post' St. Vincents, the modern city of Vincennes."
The topographical situation and site upon which the city
of Yincennes stands is remarkable and worthy of attention.
The area it occupies may be called a gravel bank extending
from the surface to the water line below. No point in this
area has been pierced and penetrated where this gravel form-
ation has not been exposed. In 1880 the city authorities ex-
cavated on Busseron street between Second and Third streets,
for a cistern for the use of the fire department. It was exca-
vated to the water line below and gravel and sand were only
found in the progress of the work. At a considerable depth
below the surface a large isolated lump of coal was found im-
bedded in gravel both above and below.
The conformation of the surrounding hills indicate that m
the remote past they were the restraining barriers of volumes
of water either in a flowing stream or confined lake. Every-
thing around the site of a natural formation indicates the
former presence and active agency of water which has been
expelled from the surface and the site of the city elevated by
some mighty upheaval. A similar but gradual and quiet
process has been observable since the advent of civilized men.
In 1804, and for many years after the village was annually
surrounded by water and the pirogues, as they were called,
used by the early French settlers, circumnavigated the village
at flood seasons and unloaded their cargoes in the rear of the
high ground upon which the Court House stands.
As late as 1836 the topographical appearance of the place
was unique. The river front at Hart street was called the
stone landing. From that point abruptly rose and extended
16 A History of Vincennes.
along the entire river front to the prairie below, a pure gravel
hill fifteen or twenty-five feet in height above the present level
of the city streets. It presented an abrupt face to the river
but gradually sloped in the direction of First street. This
gravel hill has been removed by the city authorities to grade
streets and fill depressions in other parts of the city. Between
this gravel hill and the elevated ground upon which the
Court House stands the village was originally located and
mostly below Broadway street. This space in many places was
unfit for occupation owing to the presence of ponds and sur-
face water. From a point near the intersection of Perry and
Fifth streets, running diagonally through the town in the
direction of the public cemetery, the ground was low and
little better than a pond, and was covered by water most of
the year. Immediately beyond the high ground upon which
the Court House stands was an immense pond called "Dinah's
pond," having a depth of several feet, and which was sus-
tained to a considerable depth throughout the year.
The first road leading from Vincennes to the east in the
direction of Louisville, Kentucky, was by way of Petersburg-
over what was called the ''Buffalo trace," so-called as stated
by old residents who had travelled over it from the fact that
it had been originally traced through the intervening forest
by the immense herds of buffalo that passed over it in their
annual migrations back and forth from the blue grass re-
gions of Kentucky. They crossed the Kentucky Eiver at the
"great crossings" in Scott county, the Ohio Eiver at the falls
at Louisville, and the Wabash at the ford just below this
place, and thence to the rich prairie lands of Illinois beyond.
This "buffalo trace" was the only and usual route of travel
from Vincennes to the east for many jea,rs, after 1S04.
As late as 1846 the road to Louisville passed out of town
on the southeast and thence to what is now called "Burnet
heights," and over what was then in its course an impassible
swamp the road itself being an artificial construction called
"Corduroy/' and animals running at large would mire any-
where outside the roadway itself.
The land on the southeast side of the town as far as the
high land beyond was covered with scrub oak bushes that
never attained a height greater than ten feet.
The town at first huddled and centered around the present
locality of the Catholic Church. The old fort built by Fran-
cois Morgan cle Vincenne in 1702, was located on the river
between what is now the Catholic Church square and the
river, and between Barnet and Yigo streets. The main en-
trance to the fort was on what is now Church street. The
following diagram will give a better idea of the location of the
old fort than any mere description.
■UM«Mafi l tf*i«i|tfMi.M.<*tJMdM
'^V D "',?»V,t a ^
Catholic Cemetery and
Catholic Church Square
Around these two places, the church and the fort as a
nucleus, the town gathered and sprung up. The hotel of
Mark Barnet, long the principal one, was on the river below
18 A History op Vixcexxes.
Barnet street, and that of Peter Jones, of a much later date,
was also on the river below' Broadway street where Jordan's
elevator now stands. The space between these points, and
extending" a short distance back from the river, was all the
space occupied by the town. On the northeast side of the
town above Broadway street was located the Piankeshaw vil-
lage and fields, and their Council House stood on the high
gravel hill where the B. & 0. S. W. B. B. freight depot now
stands. This high hill was for many years, and as late as
1850, selected for raising the liberty pole and firing the can-
non on the Fourth of July, which was always observed with
the annual return of that day until Philander Fellows was
killed there by a premature explosion.
There has been expressed by some of late years a doubt as
to the location of the old fort. But the doubt thus expressed
js not founded upon any authentic or reliable information.
The location of the fort as given above is sustained by all
authentic evidence and was always called by the old residents
of the place "The Old Block House Lot." The plot of ground
was only subdivided and sold in parcels as now held as late as
1839. Its location, as stated above, is consistent with all his-
toric references to it, and the happening of known events con-
nected with it, and there is no evidence of its location else-
According to the report of the State Geologist, Vincennes
is situated in one of the richest coal districts in the west. The
town itself is built upon coal deposits. The surface within
the limits of the city has been pierced in several places and
veins of coal have always been found, one layer below the first,
and of a superior quality, which will in the future be worked
with profit. A coal shaft has been sunk on the east outskirts
of the city and superior coal is taken out and has been suc-
cessfully and profitably operated for several years, and fur-
nishes the cheapest coal used in the city.
The country surrounding Vincennes gives the town a loca-
tion unsurpassed for beauty. It was originally situated be-
tween two handsome prairies one above and the other below.
The upper prairie extended about two miles from the limits
of the town to Prairie Creek on the north. But this beautiful
prairie has been encroached upon by the expansion of the city.
Within the past two years it has been covered with manufact-
uring plants, business houses and dwellings and with the
same process continued for a year or two longer it will pre-
sent a city appearance. But the two prairies below the town
remain as they were when the town was settled. They are
beautiful and fertile prairies extending from the lower limits
of the city some six miles below. The land was originally
granted to the early French settlers by the commandants of
the fort. These prairie lands as well as the lots granted in
the village were designated upon small slips of paper and no
record kept or made of any of the grants so far as known.
The titles of the French settlers and claimants rested wholly
upon actual possession and occupancy. And the transfer of
lots in the village and prairie lands from one to another was
made without documentary or written evidence of transfer,
but simply by changing possession and occupancy in the same
way personal property changed hands. This custom and
transfer of real property without any written evidence of
transfer gave the commissioners appointed by the United
States to examine and report upon the claims of the French to
lots and lands much trouble and compelled them to rely upon
20 A History of Vinceknes.
verbal testimony in such cases. The lots in the village were
not numbered ; but only identified as adjoining lots of other
persons. The same disposition of lands was made in the
lower and Cathlinette prairies, which adjoin each other in
the same imperfect manner and evidenced by descriptions on
small slips of paper of which no record was made. The grants
in the two prairies below Vincennes except the first granted
the church, which contains four arpents, all contain two
arpents in front by forty arpents in depth, French measure.
A French arpent is a little less than an English acre. The
grants in the lower prairie were thus divided in small slips
so that each proprietor could have a frontage on the Wabash
river. The grants in the prairies were not numbered and in
transferring them long after deeds were in use, were simply
described as bonded by lands of different owners. These
prairie lands were afterwards surveyed by the United States
government, after it acquired the territory, and numbered. The
lower prairie containing by the survey 52 tracts and the Cath-
linette prairie 18 tracts. But for years after the survey and
numbering of the lands in the two prairies in all deeds, the
same defective mode of conveyance was continued, causing
much confusion. The lands in the two prairies below Vin-
cennes were never enclosed by the French. They were culti-
vated by the owners in a common field. They all lived in the
town, French fashion, and went out to the fields each day to
cultivate the lands. A turning row was allowed for between
each grant to enable the adjoining owners to cultivate their
respective portions without trespassing on his neighbor in
turning his team. These prairie lands and lots in the town
in that part called "French Town,"" were originally, and as
late as 1850, owned by the French people. But since that
time they have changed hands and passed into the possession
of other proprietors and but few lots or lands are now owned
by the descendants of the original French proprietors.
The lots in the village and the lands in the neighborhood
were all granted by the commandants of the Post commenc-
ing with Francois Morganne de Yincenne, the builder of the
fort and first commandant, and all his successors. This is
shown by the official report of the judges of the court, dated
July 3d, 1790, to Winthrop Sargeant, the secretary of the
Territory, in which they expressly state that Francois Mor-
ganne de Yincenne was the builder of the fort and its first
commandant. This report can be found in the American
state papers and is authentic, and settles beyond question who
built the Port.
On the Illinois side of the Wabash adjoining Vincennes is
the large and fertile "Allison'' prairie extending from the
river back about eight miles and up and down the river about
fifteen miles. This prairie is very rich and produces abund-
ant crops of all kinds and throws upon the Vincennes market
as large a. volume of produce almost as the County of Knox.
It is thickly settled with an industrious population and adds
much to the business and prosperity of Yincennes.
By an act of Congress passed March 5, 1791, there was
appropriated a large tract of land adjoining Yincennes con-
taining about 5,000 acres for a commons, for the use of all
the inhabitants of Yincennes. This tract of land was not
enclosed but Avas used by all the inhabitants of the town for
purposes of pasturing their stock of all kinds. This use of
the commons continued until the commons lands were sold by
the borough trustees from and after 1825. The inhabitants
of the town in 1816 joined in a petition to Congress for au-
thority to sell the commons lands. In accordance with this
petition Congress on April 20, 1818, passed an act transferring
the commons lands to the trustees of the borough of Yin-
cennes in trust, however, for the purpose of selling the same,
and with the proceeds of sales to drain a pond on the east of
the town and to pay any balance remaining to the Vincennes
22 A History of Vincennes.
University. The trustees of the borough by an ordinance
passed September 28, 1818, accepted the trust and proceeded
to execute the same. The commons lands were surveyed and
divided in three divisions, A, B and C divisions. A was di-
vided into 138 lots of 5 acres each, division B was divided
into 204 lots of 10 acres each and division C was divided into
96 lots of twenty acres each. The lots in these three divisions
were sold by the trustees of the borough at different times
from and after 1825, and are now held by individual proprie-
tors under the sales made by the trustees. But the pond ad-
joining the city was not drained by the borough trustees and
no part of the proceeds were paid to the Vincennes Univer-
On the Illinois side of the Wabash Biver a chain of hills
rise near the river and extend along its bank about three miles
above and which add much to the scenery surrounding Vin-
cennes. On the Indiana side of the river the picturesque hills
on which Fort Knox was erected, rise from the water's edge
and add much to the scenery in that locality. And these hills
commencing at Fort Knox with slight interruptions extend
continuously in a circle around Vincennes, terminating with
Bunker Hill below the limits of the city. Upon these hills
thus surrounding the city, on the east and south, beautiful
sites for suburban residences are afforded which are being
rapidly taken up by wealthy citizens and fine private resi-
dences erected thereon. And on these hills on the east is
erected the Knox County Poor Asylum, a fine brick structure.
On what is usually called the "Highlands," a splendid struct-
ure has been built, some three miles from the city, but in full
view from all parts of it, for St. Vincent's Orphan Asylum.
Vincennes has four magnificent parks in close proximity
to the city. "Harrison Park" is situated in the city limits in
North Vincennes and is finely shaded and provided with walks
and seats for the convenience of visitors. "Fairview Park"
also well shaded and improved, near the limits of the city on
the northeast. "Fairground Park," a little farther out, is also
well shaded and has numerous buildings for the use and con-
venience of visitors. "Harmonic Park," a half mile still
farther out, is also well shaded and improved. All these
parks can be reached by the cars of the electric railroad. In
the summer they are daily resorted to by all parties for pic-
nics, recreation or pleasure and no better places can be found
in the vicinity of any city for the purpose of amusement and
pleasure and escaping from the heat of the city.
Yincennes is blessed with driveways in all directions around
the city. And these afford any variety of route and scenery
that may be desired. On one route the driver can pass over
picturesque hills on a road well improved. On another he
can pass over a road well graded and improved and as level
as a floor. And on another he can pass oyer the most beauti-
ful undulating country to be found anywhere. And on an-
other, along a shaded road running by a running stream,
which tends to moisten and cool the air. And on the other
side of the Wabash he can drive either up or down the river
on its banks, well shaded, and on a road as smooth as possible.
And on any of the routes he may take he can drive for an
evening airing a distance of ten miles through beautiful rural
scenery and return to the city without passing twice over the
24 A History op Vincennes.
The first houses erected in Vincennes by the
French settlers as well as those erected by their
Creole descendants, were of timbers set upon end,
thatched with straw and plastered with adobe.
They were durable and lasting structures. Some such ho usee
were known to have stood for upwards of a hundred yeat's,
and were still in good preservation when torn down to give
place to more modern structures. They even resisted much
longer the destrojdng ravages of fire than frame houses. One
of them caught fire in the early part of the night between the
years 1840 and 1850, and after burning all night, with the aid
of the volunteer fire department, was consumed as the sun
was casting its first rays over the eastern horizon. They were
comfortable residences, being warm in winter and cool in
summer. The first church erected in this way for St. Francis
Xavier was used for church purposes for about eighty years,
and then for a pastoral residence many years afterwards.
None of the structures now remain in Vincennes.
The building occupied by the Territorial Government dur-
ing the time Vincennes was the capitol of the Territory, was
situated on the southwest side of Main street about miclwav
between Second and Third streets. It was a two story frame
building which about fifty years ago was removed to the
southeast side of Upper Third street and located just below
"Harrison" Park, where it yet stands in a good state of prefc-
The upper prairie survey, now in part occupied by "Harri-
son" Park, was covered over on the river front by many hand-
some brick residences. These remained as late as 18-14, but
have since entirely disappeared. The brick in these build-
ings was used in the construction of brick buildings in var-
ious parts of the city, and may be said to be the beginning of
the erection of brick buildings in the city. The survey upon
which these buildings stood on the failure of the Steam Mill
Company was mortgaged to the United States for $100,000,
and the title subject to the mortgage passed to Hall Neilson,
FIRST CAPITOL OF INDIANA TERRITORY.
of Washington City. The United States was subjected to a
long litigation to establish its claim, which was not finaliy
settled until 1880, when the government claim was finally
quited. The Government then had the survey subdivided
into lots and sold all the lots except that portion fronting on
the river which was donated to the city for a public park, and
is now known as "Harrison" Park.
The Harrison mansion is the oldest building in Vincennes,
and is truly an ancient landmark. Many fictitious stories
A History of Vixcexxes.
connected with the old mansion have been circulated. One-
to the effect that there was a subterraneous passage leading
from the mansion to the river as a means of escape in case of
any hostile attack. No such passageway ever had any exist-
ence. The mansion itself was the best protection in case of
danger of any place in the vicinity. Another to the effect
that in the basement there was a duno-eon in which slaves and
others were confined. No dungeon was ever in the basement.
These stories are akin to another that the huge boulder in the
yard of the Eabb residence on Sixth street was the trystring
place where Jefferson Davis and Jessie Taylor often met,
Jessie Taylor left the place when an infant and never return-
ed to it, and Jefferson Davis was never in Vincennes.
The mansion was the centre of attraction during its occu-
pation by Gen. Harrison, and long afterwards. When the
general left in 1811, it was occupied by his son, John Cleves
Symmes Harrison, who was as popular and as great a favorite
with the people as his father. He was a cultured man. He
married the daughter and only child of General Pike, who
was equally cultured. The Vincennes Library was kept in the
mansion during the time it was occupied by Symmes Harri-
son, and it continued to be the resort of the elite and cultured
of the place. When he left, a public banquet was tendered
him by the citizens of the place, at which he delivered an ad-
dress. In part, he said : "I had fondly hoped to spend my
life here, but cruel fate has decreed otherwise. But rest as-
sured I can never forget the place or the many friends I leave
behind me." He died at his fathers home in North Bend on
the Ohio Eiver, October 30, 1830, of typhoid fever. A fine
obituary notice of his death was published in the Western
After Symmes Harrison left, the mansion was occupied by
Gen. James P. Drake, who was the receiver of public monies
at this place, and kept his office there. Gen. Drake was one
of the leading men of the State, and was afterwards elected
Treasurer of State and removed to Indianapolis, where he
died after 1850.
After Gen. Drake left the mansion was greatly neglected
and fell into the hands of men who appropriated it to im-
proper use. Gen. John Myers, who lived near on Second
street, used it for storing his wheat and corn. And after the
completion of the railroad to St. Louis it was occupied by
James Gattan as a hotel. But thanks to its durable construc-
tion it exhibits no signs of misuse and is now as well pre-
served and substantial as any building in Vincennes.
It was at the Harrison mansion that the celebrated inter-
view took place between Gen. Harrison and Chief Tecumseh.
This interview is often referred to as a treaty. But it was no
treaty and was not intended as such. It was called by Gen.
28 A History of Vincenxes.
Harrison for the sole purpose of a friendly exchange of greet-
ings. Gen. Harrison aware of the intrigues and machination
of that celebrated chief requested him to come and visit him
and that he would assure him of the friendly good will of the
government towards the Indian tribes. He was requested to
come unarmed and assured he would receive kind and courte-
ous tratment. He agreed to come and did come. But in-
stead of coming unarmed he came with 70 armed warriors,
who encamped for the night on Prairie creek, near the present
residence of Mr. Kelso. Gen. Harrison, aware of his thus
coming with an armed force, prepared to meet him in an in-
terview on the following da,j, August 15, 1810. For precau-
tion in case of necessity Gen. Harrison summoned a numbei
of his friends, who were well armed and occupied places in
the hallway and circular parlor of the mansion This inter-
view was held on the southwest front of the mansion in a
grove of trees that surrounded it on that side Some conflict-
ing statements have been made as to where this interview took
place. But there should be no doubt about it. Robert G.
McClure and Elihu Stout and many others who were part of
Gen. Harrison's guard at the time all stated that this inter-
view was held in the grove in front of the porch on the south-
west side of the mansion. Gen. Harrison never left the porch
and Tecumseh refused to take a seat on it, but stood in the
grove. Gen. Harrison proceeded to address Tecumseh and
his warriors and to assure them of the friendly feeling and
good wishes of the government towards the Indians, and was
willing to do all possible to promote their comfort and happi-
ness and preserve peace. Tecumseh, who understood English
imperfectly, here interrupted the general and told the inter-
preter to tell him he lied. The interpreter fearing if the ex-
act language was given it would produce trouble modified it.
But Tecumseh interrupted him and told him to state his exact
language and to tell Gen. Harrison he lied when he said the
government was friendly to the Indians, but had cheated
them and stolen their lands. When this was communicated
to the general he terminated the interview and Tecumseh and
his warriors withdrew. This porch and the grove of trees
that surrounded it where this interview was held remained
until 1840. It was here the great mass meeting and barbecue
was held during the exciting political campaign of "Tippe-
canoe and Tyler too" in 1840. The meeting was composed of
such numbers that four speakers of national reputation ad-
dressed it at the. same time. The names of these four speak-
ers were George G-. Dunn of Bedford, Richard W. Thompson
of Terre Haute, George H. Profht of Petersburg and John
Ewing of Vincennes.
The grounds around the Harrison mansion, extending to
the river, were artistically laid out and filled with the choicest
fruits and flowers. It was in fact a thing of beauty and a joy
and remained in good preservation as late as 1855. The river
front and for 'some distance back was enclosed with a picket
fence of locust timbers firmly planted in the ground. The
square in front of the mansion, on laying out Harrison's addi-
tion, was reserved for a park. The brick used in the construc-
tion of the mansion were manufactured by Samuel Thomp-
son, who received for this work 400 acres of land about three
miles above the city on the Terre Haute road.
The second brick building erected in Vincennes was the old
seminary, which occupied four of the present city squares,
bounded by Fourth and Sixth streets and Perry and Hart
streets. This seminary was built in 1S07 and was intended
for use of common schools. It was sold by the school author-
ities in 1839 to Bishop Hailandiere, who started St. Gabriel's
College there under the managment of the Udist fathers,
who conducted the college until 1844, when they left the
diocese and Avent to New Orleans. It was then converted into
an orphan as} 7 lum and so continued until the orphans were
30 A History of Yincennes.
removed to Terre Haute. The Seminary was then turned
over to the Sisters of Providence who established there St.
Eose Academy. Francis Silas Chatard, the present bishop of
the diocese, subdivided the square and opened Fifth and
Seminary streets through it. The old Seminary was torn
down in 1883 and the lots of the subdivision have all been
sold except the part reserved for St. Eose Seminary, and are
now held by private persons, and for the most part covered by
As late as 1850 the survey out of which has been carved iu
part Judalr s addition, was enclosed with a rail fence and used
for farming purposes. The part of the town back of the
Court House was unoccupied and used for a race track. That
portion extending back from Sixth street was Marachall'b
field, and extended to the limits of the town and was culti-
vated in corn. This was divided into lots by Alvin W. Tracy,
his executor, in 1855, and the lots sold. All that part of the
city above Hart street was vacant except the Harrison man-
sion, the former residence of Judge Parke and that of Judge
Law between them and the Judah square, afterwards called
"the Baty place/' In 1857 the Lutheran Church on Eighth
street was built and was then the sole and solitary structure
of any kind in that quarter.
So late as 1850 the buildings of the Steam Mill Company
on the river front on what is now "Harrison" Park remained
in a good state of preservation. The main structure of bricic
was 700 feet in length and two stories high. It was painted
white. From the second story extended a log carriage-way
to the river upon which logs floated down the river were car-
ried by steam power into the mill. The Terre Haute Stale
Road passed beneath this log-way. Immediately above the
mill was a tall, brick malt house, and still farther up a large
distillery. Around this mill as late as 1850 there were still
standing many large two-story brick buildings for business-
and residence purposes. The surroundings indicated that
regular streets and paved sidewalks had been constructed.
The houses were all finely finished. . The Masonic Hall was in
one of them and the walls were beautifully frescoed with the
symbolical emblems of the order.
The building occupied by the Bank of Vincennes, and sub-
sequently by act of the State Legislature in 1816 adopted as
the State Bank of Indiana, and which bank gave rise to the
celebrated quo warranto proceedings in the Circuit and Su-
preme Courts of the State, was located in a brick building on
the east corner of First and Broadway streets.
The first building used for court purposes was of logs, sit-
uated on the north corner of Second and Broadway streeLs,
and which after it was abandoned for such purposes was,
while Fort Knox, was occupied by Federal troops used for
hospital purposes for sick, wounded and disabled soldiers.
The second building used for court purposes was purchased
from Bobert Buntin, and was located on the west corner of
Fourth and Buntin streets, and the county jail and estray pen
were on the north corner of the same streets.
The present court square was purchased from Jacob Kuy-
kendall, September 20, 1830, and has ever since been used for
court and county purposes.
The old fort built by Francois Morgan de Vincenne in 1702
was built of logs and remained until 1820, when it was torn
down and the logs used in its construction were used in build-
ing private houses in various parts of the city, and which
houses were durable and remained until torn down. One of
the houses built of logs from the old fort was situate! on
Lower Sixth street near the Catholic cemetery, and was only
torn down a few years ago.
32 A History of Vincennes.
THE OLD FORT.
The old fort on the Wabash at Vincennes owed its origin
to considerations of military necessity. The French were
aware as early as 1650 of the dangers that would in the future
imperil their possessions on this continent and prudently en-
deavored to counteract them. Their colonies on the St. Law-
rence river in the north, were widely separated from those on
the Gulf of Mexico in the south. It was necessary for pro-
tection in a military point of view to connect them by a direct
communication. This could not be done along the Atlantic
coast as the English, their menacing and hostile rivals, occu-
pied the intervening space in that quarter. It was only feasi-
ble by a line of forts through the unbroken and unexplored
wilderness of the West. This connection was determined on
as early as 1650 by the French ministry in control of affairs.
But to execute it was a work requiring time. A survey had to
be made and a practicable route adopted. It required years
to explore this vast expanse of country through which the pro-
posed connection was to be made. Exploring parties would
have to grope their way through this extended stretch of wil-
derness, not only presenting natural obstacles, but filled with
savage and in many cases hostile Indian tribes. The entire
field stretching for thousands of miles had to be viewed in
order to select the most feasible route and locate the forts in
the proper places. The Mississippi river flowing almost di-
rectly north and south, was a natural highway affording easy
ingress to the north from the Gkilf of Mexico. The St. Law-
rence river and the great chain of lakes connected with it were
a natural highway opening the heart of the continent to ap-
The Old Fort.
roach from the Atlantic. It was determined to connect these
two groat natural highways. The St. Lawrence route was
direct and continous from the Atlantic to Detroit river. But
here its direction was broken and only sustained by a long de-
tour to the north and then an equal distance to the south. To
avoid this circuity and waste of time, it was determined to
make the connection from Detroit to the Mississippi at the
junction of the Ohio. The site of Vincennes was selected as
the place to locate one of the forts. This route was practica-
ble and afforded a water communication in a direct course
THE OLD FORT.
almost the entire distance. The waters of the Maumee, the
St. Joseph, the St. Mary and Wabash rivers, presented nat-
ural facilities for communication only interrupted by a very
narrow portage. This divide separating the waters of these
rivers is so narrow and contracted that the crystal drops fall-
ing on the earth from their home in the sky, are at first puz-
zled to determine which course to take, whether to seek the
cold and sparkling waters of the Atlantic through the great
lakes and the St. Lawrence river or the warm and rosy bosom
of the Gulf of Mexico through the Wabash, Ohio and Missis-
sippi rivers. This route had been selected and determined
34 A History op Vincennes.
upon by the French government before 1700. It was sup-
posed for many years that the "Ouabasche" was the river that
emptied into the Mississippi Eiver. Judge Law in his address
of February 2.2, 1838, says: "It is a singular fact that the
Wabash river was known and navigated by the whites long
before the Ohio was known to exist." But this is not a sin-
gular fact and results as a natural sequence from the way the
country was settled. This continent was first settled by the
Europeans along the Atlantic coast, but the Allegheny
mountains and the Blue Bidge were barriers forbidding the
discovery and settlement of the Mississippi valley from that
direction. This could only be done by way of the St. Law-
rence and its connecting lakes. And this is the way it was
explored and settled. The head waters of the Wabash river
being nearer this route of travel from the north was neces-
sarily discovered and navigated before the Ohio.
The old fort here was built in the fall of 1702. The first
of the military forts in the North of the contemplated chain
built by the French, Avas at Detroit in 1701. The next year
Francois Morgan de Vincenne, according to the Quebec an-
nals, a trusted officer in the service of the French, was sent
with a military force to build three forts on the route selected
for the chain of French forts to connect Canada and Louisi-
ana. One at the junction of the St. Joseph and St. Mary
rivers where the city of Fort Wayne now stands, two on the
Wabash river, one about seven miles below the present city of
Lafayette called "Outanon." The third at the site of Vin-
cennes. These forts were certainly built in the order named
as that would naturally follow, considering the point where
the force engaged in their construction started to do the work
which was Detroit.
It was the custom of the French in all their explorations
and settlements on this continent to operate with two forces,,
the sword and the cross. The one represented the civil, and
The Old Fort. 35
the other the spiritual power. Accordingly the force that
came here with de Vincenne in 1702 to build the fort, and
thus lay the foundation of civilization in these parts, was ac-
companied by a French Jesuit missionary, who in the fall of
1702 celebrated the holy sacrifice of the mass at this place, in
the open air, before the troops, the villagers and thousands of
Indians. This mass was said near where the fort was to be
built and near where the cathedral now stands. This act of
the Jesuit missionary is recited in the Quebec annals and may
be taken as the date when the site of Vincennes was conse-
crated and dedicated to civilization and Christianity.
When the French came here in 1702 to build the fort they
were welcomed and kindly received by the Indian tribes in-
habiting the Wabash country about here. It is certain they
gave them no active opposition but made them concessions of
land in the village and surrounding country. It is stated in
documents still preserved in Quebec that the Indians assisted
the French in building both the church and the fort. And
this is reasonable to believe from the known amicable rela-
tions that always existed between the French and the various
Indian tribes, with whom they came in contact. The French
and Indian tribes always lived in peace and concord. Judge
Law says in his adress of February, 1838 : "The French
have always succeeded in conciliating the Indians and gaining
their confidence and good will, while the Anglo Saxon has
made but little progress in claiming their confidence and af-
The country around Vincennes has been subject to the sov-
ereignty of several different nationalities. It was first
claimed, occupied and colonized by the French. It remained
subject to this jurisdiction until the year 1763, when by the
treaty of Paris of that year, it Avas ceded to Great Britain.
It remained subject to that power until the capture of Kas-
kaskia and other French posts on the Mississippi river in
36 A History op Vincennes.
July, 1778, and the capture of the old fort here in February,
1779, by Virginia troops under command of George Rogers
Clark. It then became a part of the commonwealth of old
Virginia. It so remained until 1784, when that state ceded
to the general government the territory northwest of the
river Ohio, only stipulating in the act of cession that the ter-
ritory thus ceded, should be divided into new states and ad-
mitted into the Union without slavery. And in accordance
with this stipulation in the grant of Virginia to the general
government, the five states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michi-
gan and Wisconsin, have been carved out of the territory and
admitted into the Union as free states.
The old fort here was called by many different names but
never during all the time the French continued in possession,
was it ever called by the name of "Sackville." It was never so
called until the British acquired the Northwest Territory
after the close of the old French war by the treaty of Paris.
The British wishing to obliterate from the minds of the in-
habitants all recollection of the French regime named the
fort here "Sackville." This was intended as a compliment to
Sir Thomas Sackville, earl of Dorset, an English scholar and
statesman, who was a great favorite of the English govern-
ment and who was employed in many important foreign mis-
sions. On the death of Lord Burleigh he succeeded him as
Prime Minister of England, in which capacity he was regarded
in sagacity and fidelity, as equal to his great predecessor, and
in his honor the English named the fort here. But the object
of the English in naming the fort failed of its purpose. The
French did not approve or accept the name and never as long
as the fort stood referred to it in any other way than the
"old fort," and would not have known what fort was referred
to as "Sackville."
The town itself has been called by many different names.
I have seen it stated that the name of the original village that
The Old Fort. 37
occupied this site was "Chippecoke." But I do not know upon
what authority the statement is made. No reliable document
calling the Indian village upon the Wabash at this place by
that name has yet come under my observation. As to the dif-
ferent names the place has been called, Bishop Brute says:
"Few places have received so many different appellations in
the public documents either of old Virginia, of Congress or
even of the territory where it would seem it would be best pre-
served; few had their orthography more wonderfully diversi-
fied. Beside the "Ancient Poste," "The Poste," "An Poste,"
"Post Ouabache," "Post St. Francis Xavier," and finally
The town was never called Vincennes until after 1736. It
has been frequently stated that the place received its name
from a place so called in the vicinity of Paris in France. But
this is a mistake. The place derives its name from no city
in France or elsewhere, but from the French officer who came
here in 1702, and built the fort. And this name was given
the place to perpetuate the memory and heroism of its
founder. This was done in consequence of the tragic death
and self sacrifice of de Vincenne in a disastrous battle with
the Chickasaw Indians. In 1736 the French to force their
way and complete their chain of forts, were at war with these
Indians who inhabited the country midway between here and
the fort at Vicksburg. It was determined by the French in
order to complete the chain of forts, to attack them both from
the north and south. Accordingly two armies were organized
for the purpose. The force from the south was under the
command of Bienville. The one from the north under the
command of D'Artegette and Francois Morgan de Vincenne.
It was intended the forces should form a conjunction before
risking a decisive battle with the Chickasaws. But the forces
from the south under Bienville were delayed and failed to
form a junction. D'Artegette, unfortunately determined to
33 A History of Vincennes.
attack the Indians with the northern forces alone. He did
so and was successful in several minor engagements and capt-
ured several of their smaller villages. When they approached
the stronghold of the Chickasaws in the vicinity of the present
city of Memphis, they halted before it in hopes they would be
joined by the force from the south under Bienville. As long
as that officer remained in the vicinity in a threatening atti-
tude, the Indians and French remained quietly confronting
each other. When Bienville retreated with his force and re-
turned to Louisiana, the savages became emboldened and at-
tacked the French, and defeated them in a bloody engage-
ment. In consequence of this defeat, M. D'Artegette, de Vin-
cenne and Father Antoninus Senat, then pastor of St. Fran-
cis Xavier church here, who accompanied the expedition as
spiritual adviser, were all taken prisoners by the Indians.
Father Senat and de Vincenne could have easily escaped with
the remnant of the troops that retreated, and came back, and
were entreated to do so. The retreat was conducted by M.
Voisin, a young French officer, but both Father Senat and de
Vincenne, with self sacrificing devotion of true heroes and
martyrs, refused to join the retreating forces and thus save
themselves, but leave the wounded and dying soldiers to the
fury of the savages. They remained with the wounded sold-
iers and were both burned at the stake on Easter Sunday,
] 736. This clay has always been observed as a holiday in all
Catholic churches throughout the world and was a fitting day
for the introduction of two martyr saints into the glories of
the church triumphant. And from the time the troops who
survived and returned to the fort here, this place has been
called Vincennes and will ever be called as long as the rec-
ollection of heroism and noble deeds will be appreciated
among men. And thus it is clear Vincennes derives its name
from an honorable source in perpetuation and remembrance
of its founder. On this subject, Bishop Brute, says: "Al-
The Old Fort. 39
though we find no deliberation, no special act, no express
monument for attaching the name of de Vincenne to the Post,
we see how effectually that honorable gratitude gave his name
Of the three forts built by Francois Morgan de Yincenne
in 1702, the one at this place was destined to endure the long-
est and become of historic importance. The one built at the
junction of the St. Mary's and St. Joseph's rivers was de-
stroyed by the Indians and the remains seen and described by
Gen. Wayne in 1794. The one called Outanon, on the Wa-
bash, was destroyed by the Indians in 1765. But the old fort
built here remained until torn down after 1816.
40 A History op Vincennes.
Vincennes was originally settled by the French, as already
stated. When they came here and settled they found the
country filled with various Indian tribes living together in
peace and amity. These tribes were Delawares, Kickapoos,
Mascontens, Miamis, Shawnees, Pottawatomies and Pianke-
shaws. This place, from its location on high ground when the
whole surrounding country was subject to overflow, made the
site of Vincennes a favorite place of resort and abode for the
Indian tribes. When the French came here they associated
and affiliated with them on terms of equality. The marriages
between the French and the Indian races were frequent. From
this admixture of blood a dual race was produced called
"Creoles." This race was for many years the dominant race
about here in both town and country, and could, as late as
1855, control all elections in Knox county. The Creole
French occupied almost exclusively all that part of town be-
low Main street, and the Lower and Cathilinette prairies.
Their Indian ancestry was easily discernible in their personal
appearance with high cheek bones and straight, black hair.
They stood erect and held their head high and walked with
long strides, and carried their persons upright and as straight
as an arrow. Many of the Creoles were here until long after
1850. But very few specimens are left now surviving in the
town or country.
This mixed stock embodied in combination the qualities of
the two races or sources of derivation. They inherited all the
virtues as well as the vices of the French and Indian in com-
bination. From the French vivacity and good nature, and
French Customs. 41
from the Indian wild, roving and irascible traits of character.
The result was that the Creole population was of rather a wid
and intractable disposition, and mingled with it a love of
ease and pleasure. Labor was distasteful and only perform-
ed as a matter of necessity to provide for the wants of life
and not from any desire to accumulate worldly goods and
possessions. Hunting, fishing and dancing and all manner
of sports and amusements were practiced. The sam.3 social
state was observable here during the Creole supremacy as ex-
ists today in the French Arcadian settlements of Lousiana
back of the Mississippi Eiver. The dance was a favorite
pastime, and the sound of the fiddle and the tread of feei
to its strains were more frequently heard than that of the
loom or the anvil. This has been so within the memory of
men still living who well remember the joyous, free and easy
times when Mitchel Richard ville was king of the ball room
and led the dance with the strains of his fiddle, and the stamp
of his right foot at one and the same time making as mush
noise with the one as the other.
A favorite dance with the French was the king ball on .New
Year's night. On this occasion the young man chosen as king
for the ball had the privilege of selecting his queen for the
dance and during the evening. The king and queen were thfa
most important persons at the ball and enjoyed themselves to
their heart's content. The next day the king was expected,
by custom, to present his queen with a new dress.
Chicken fighting and horse racing were also resorted to,
and were favorite diversions among the Creole French, and
all manner of means devised by them to pass away the time
and enjoy life without work.
The Creoles were a very sociable and hospitable people. On
Easter Sunday it was an invariable custom among them to
visit their neighbors and acquaintances and make presents of
colored eggs. On Christmas day it was expected that all
42 A History of Vincennes.
among them, both young and old, male and female, should
exchange presents with their friends and acquaintances. On
New Year's day it was general for them to exchange visits
from house to house, and every one was welcome to any house
and was expected to partake of the many good things provided
for the occasion.
Fighting was common among them and all the Creole men
were boastful of their personal prowess. But these fights
were all in old fashioned style with such arms only as nature
provided. Up to 1844 the elections were attended in the town
by all the voters and they were not confined to the townships
in which they resided. The great volume of the vote was cast
here at the county seat. Election clay was a great event, and
the voters generally flocked to the county seat to vote and see
the sights usual on such occasions. It was the time set apart
by custom to settle personal disputes by trial, by battle and
many difficulties were adjusted that way on election day. The
result was that thousands flocked here on election day to wit-
ness these personal encounters. Persons yet living in Vin-
cennes can remember that on election day as many as a dozen
fights would take place one after the other, and when one
would cry, "Hold, enough !" hostilities would instantly cea&e
and the difficulty was settled and at rest. The main battle
ground was the intersection of Main and Third streets, and
thousands there assembled to witness these pugilistic exercises,
and elevated places of observation were at a premium.
The only vehicles to be seen on the streets of Vincennes as
late as 1845 were French carts called "calesche." One of them
would be a curiosity now. They were creations of necessity,
as the old Creole French in their isolated condition here were
cut off in a manner from the outside world. These French
carts were of home made manufacture. They were two-
wheeled vehicles with shafts for only one horse. They were
entirelv constructed of wood without the use of anv metal
French Customs. 43
whatever. They were used for hauling wood and produce oi
every kind, and for every kind of farm work. They were the
only vehicle provided for the use of the family either male 01
female. In these carts, the body of which was in size and
shape very similar to a large dry goods box, an entire Creole
family, man, wife and children, would huddle together and
jostle along going to church or on a visit, the horse maintain-
ing a brisk trot, and the heads of the household bobbing up
and down at a lively rate.
These Creole customs and practices were legitimate fruits
of the blending of the French and Indian races. They were
all professed Catholics in religion, but paid little attention to
the precepts of the church. They, as a. general rule, only en-
tered the church on three occasions during life. First, when
baptised; then when married, and lastly when carried there
to have the last rites of the church performed over their dead
bodies. When Father Flaget, afterwards first bishop of
Bardstown, Ivy., came here as resident pastor, December 21,
1792, he tried to curb the Creole population and reform their
habits and enforce conformity to church discipline. He con-
demned their wild and roving habits and frivolous amuse-
ments as being contrary to the teachings of the church. Ht
encouraged agriculture and the mechanic arts and started a
free industrial school to instill into their minds habits of in-
dustry. He urged them to see that their children attended re-
ligious schools where they would form habits of honor, piety
and virtue and become an honor to their name and a consola-
tion to their grey hairs. He exhorted them to fence about
their homes so they would be structures of Christian virtue.
He exhorted them to be faithful Catholics and their country
would be proud of them as models of religious enlightenment
and patriotism. He accomplished much good, but was re-
called before he had finished his good work.
It is a singular fact that both Indians and negro slaves
44 A History of Vtncenxes.
were held here among the Creoles, as well as other settlers
from Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky long
after the passage of the ordinance of 1787 and the state con-
stitution of 1816. In 1830 the trustees of the Borough di-
rected the Marshal to take a census of the population. He
did so, and his official return to the Trustees shows the fol-
lowing result: White males, 768; white females, 639; free
black males, 63; free black females, 63; slave males, 12; slave
females, 20 ; total population, 1,565.
Yincennes was for a long time after it was founded an out-
post in the wilderness. It had no communication with the
colonies on the Atlantic and was to them a "term incognita.''
But the formation of the Territorial Government in 1800
changed all this. When the first comers after that arrived
here they found a French settlement speaking that language
exclusively, and no more than a dozen English speaking peo-
ple in the place. The Creole population never learned to
speak the English language. When the Territorial Govern-
ment was formed and VinceUnes named as the capital, the sea-
board States poured their overflow population composed of a
restless, battling swarm of home seekers through the Alleghen-
ies out upon the rich prairies of the west. All these adven-
turous men directel their steps to Vincennes as a common
mecca. As the curtain rose upon the advancing Saxon and
Celt they beheld with awe the mystery of a new civilization.
The native Indian and Latin races mingled in fraternal ac-
cord on the banks of the Wabash. The town was a marvel, a
page torn from some book of enchantment. A fragment of
Europe suddenly dropped in his path could scarce have awak-
ened more astonishment. He beheld long lines of white
houses thatched with straw and covered with adobe, each with
its arcade festooned with trailing vines and half hidden in
season under the bloom of peach, cherry and apple trees. In
the centre the frowning walls of a citadel overlooking a bel-
fried church, and a necropolis entombing a century's dead.
French Customs. 45
Its streets thronged with brightly dressed, dark-eyed women
and well-dressed men chatting in a strange tongue. These
people were all seekers after pleasure and social enjoyment,
and were not wedded to the acquisition of wealth. He min-
gled with them in their balls and festive clays. In the church
' the altar blazing with lights before which robed priests chant-
ed Latin prayers and intoned the music of the mass. With
such scenes were the first adventurers of the English speak-
ing race confronted on their arrival among the ancient in-
habitants of Vincennes. But what became of this civiliza-
tion ? Where are the lords of the forest who reigned with un-
bounded sway over these fertile regions? Where the Dela-
wares, the Kickapoos, the Miamis, the Shawees, the Potta-
watomies ; nay ! even the half civilized Piankeshaws who with
their village occupied one-half the town? Their bows are
broken, their council fires extinguished, the graves of their
fathers deserted. The white man came, civilization attended
him, and desolation and death followed in his train. And
what became of the patriarchs of the Post, the gay, the polite,
the lively and the hospitable French and Canadians who set-
tled it? The dance has ceased, the sound of the viol is no
longer heard. The Anglo-Saxon has usurped the place of the
descendants of St. Louis. How many French families whose
members were formerly almost as numerous as the leaves of
the forest are now represented by any living members ? Where
are the Busserons, the Lasselles, the Geueroms, the Andres,
the Burclalows, the Cardinals, the Bazadous, the Amlins, the
Eichardvilles, the Laderouts, the Eacines? They are all
gone. This result is attributable in part to the frequent in-
termarriage of blood relations, and the impoverishment of
the stock. In part from having come- in contact with the
Anglo-Saxon, that strong and aggressive blood race that ab-
sorbs, eliminates, appropriates, enslaves or extinguishes ah
races that come into its way, and the result is the stronger has
supplanted the weaker.
46 A History op Vincennes.
As long as the French held possession of the Northwest
Territory there were no courts of justice at Vincennes or any-
where else in the French settlements, so far as known. All
matters of dispute were decided by the various commandants
of the Post, who Avere de Vincennes, St. Auge, LeG-rand and
Legras. All concessions of land to the inhabitants were made
by them on little slips of paper. Of all these transactions no
record was ever made so far as known, and the slips of paper
evidencing concessions of land were not recorded. The trans-
fers of land were made by actual transfer of possession as per-
sonal property was transferred. This was much the same as
the old livery of seizure in English practice. This manner of
transferring lands without record or deed gave the United
States commissioners appointed to adjust French grants
much trouble, as these old French grants had to be ascer-
tained and adjusted by parole testimony.
After the English acquired the territory in 1763 they only
held it until 1779, a period of nineteen years, and nothing was
done by them in the matter of establishing civil government
in the Northwest Territory.
When Virginia acquired the territory in 1779 by her troops
under George Eogers Clark, in the spring of that year an act
was passed by the Virginia Legislature for the government
of the territory thus acquired. John Todd was appointed
" ■Lieutenant of the Country and Commander-in-Chief." He im-
mediately came to Vincennes and issued a proclamation an-
nouncing his power and purposes. In June, 1779, he organ-
ized "A Court for the District of Post Vihcmnes." This
48 A History of Vincennes.
court, possessed both civil and criminal jurisdiction and was
composed of the following judges: F. Busseron, L. E. Do-
line, Pierre Gamelin and Pierre Queray. This court contin-
ued in existence until it was superseded by the courts of the
United States, appointed under the ordinance of 1787.
When the United States acquired the territory steps were
taken by Congress to establish civil government for the terri-
tory. On the 13th of July, 1787, an act of Congress was
passed organizing the "Territory Northivest of the River
Ohio." Gen. Arthur St. Clair was appointed the first gov-
ernor of the territory. In January, 1790, he sent Wilthrop
Sargeant, secretary of the territory, to Post Vincennes to or-
ganize the county. Sargeant accordingly came to Vincemiefc
and did this in the summer of 1790, and named the county he
organized "Knox," after Gen. Henry Knox, the secretary of
war. The court established by him for Knox county was
called "General Quarter Sessions of the Peace." It held its
first session at the house of John Small, who was appointed
sheriff on July 4, 1790. There were present at this session
as judges, Antoine Gamelin, Paul Gamelin, Francois Busser-
on, James Johnson and Luke Decker. Samuel Baird was ap-
pointed clerk of this court. It continued until Indiana Terri-
tory was organized in 1800.
There was a court of "Oyer and Terminer, and General Jail
Delivery and Nisi Prius" held at Vincennes in October, 1795,
before John Cleves Symmes, senior judge of the Territory
Northwest of the Ohio. But little business was done at this
session, and was the only term of said court ever held here
of which there is any record.
When Indiana Territory was organized, Henry Vander-
burg, William Clark and John Griffin were appointed the first
Federal judges of the Territory. Under the Federal Govern-
ment there were two Courts that exercised jurisdiction in this
county. One was called the "General Court" and exercised
jurisdiction throughout the territory. The other was called
"Common Pleas/' and its jurisdiction was limited to the sev-
eral counties and possessed jurisdiction in probate matters.
Henry Hurst was clerk of both these courts from their organ-
ization until they were superseded by the courts organized by
the State Government in 1816.
Since the organization of the State Government probate
matters have been transacted by different courts. The first
one in point of time was the "Court of Probate.'' The fol-
lowing judges presided in this court in the order named:
William Caruthers, William R. McCall, John Ewing, John B.
Drennon, Henry Ruble, Mark Barnett, William L. Coleman,
William Polke, John Moore and Richard P. Price. This
•court was adjourned sine die Saturday, August 15, 1829.
The above court was succeeded by the "Probate Court/''
which was organized September 7, 1829. The following per-
sons presided as judges in this court in the order named:
William Polke, George W. Ewing, Abner T. Ellis, Robert N.
Canian, George R. Gibson, Robert P. McCounghey, John H.
Harrison, James Thorne and Clark Willis. This court was in
1852 abolished b} r act of the Legislature.
The Probate Court was succeeded by the "Court of Com-
mon Pleas." This court was organized in this county Jaa-
uary 3, 1853. This was not strictly speaking a county court.
It was called a district conrt and embraced several counties,
presided over by the same judge. This district, in which
Knox county was situated, was composed of the counties of
Knox, Daviess, Martin and Pike. This court had jurisdiction
■of all probate matters and civil cases when the amount in
controversy did not exceed one thousand dollars, but not in
cases of slander or where the title to real estate was involved,
iind in criminal cases less than felony. The following per-
sons presided as judges in this court in this county in the
order named: Richard A. Clements, James C. Denny, Rich-
50 A History of Vincennes.
arcl A. Clements, Jr., William K. Gardner and James T.
Pierce. This conrt was abolished by an act of the Legisla-
ture in 1873, and its jurisdiction and business was transferred
to the Circuit Court.
The most important court in dignity and jurisdiction in the
county has ever been the Circuit Court. It has always pos-
sessed general common law and equity powers in all cases,
both civil and criminal. It was first created by an act of the
Territorial Legislature passed at Cory don in 1814. The first
court met in this county May 9, 1811, but no business was
transacted, as only the clerk and sheriff were present, but no
president judge. The same thing occurred at the following
August term, as no president judge appeared. The first term
of this court at which any business was transacted was held
March 16, 1815, when Isaac Blackford appeared as the pres-
ident judge, and Daniel Sullivan and James B. McCall as>
associate judges. It was for many years that in this court in
addition to the president judge, who was to be a lawyer, there
were two associate judges who were not necessarily required
to be lawyers. The president judges in this court have been
in the order named: Isaac Blackford, David Raymond,
William Prince, Thomas H. Blake, General W. Johnson, Jon-
athan Doty, Jacob Call, John E. Porter, John Law, General
W. Johnson, Amory Kinney, Elisha M. Huntington, William
P. Bryant, John Law, Samuel B. Gookins, Delano R-. Eccles,
Alvin P. Hovey, William E. Niblack, Ballard Smith, Michael
F. Burke, James C. Denny, John Baker, ISTewton E. Malott y
George W. Shaw, and Orlando H. Cobb, the present incum-
Vincennes enjoys the unique distinction as having been
known and recognized by name long before she was legally
born. It was frequently mentioned as '"Borough of Vin-
cennes" in many official documents and reports and acts of
legislatures before any specific act incorporating it was ever
passed. It was referred to as the "Borough of Vincennes" in
the act of the Territorial Legislature incorporating the "Vin-
cennes University," which was passed in 1806. The first act
incorporating Vincennes was passed by the Territorial Legis-
lature in 1807. By this act the following persons were cre-
ated its first board of trustees : Bobert Buntin, William Bul-
litt, Charles Smith, Hyacinthe Lasselle, Joshua Bend, Henry
Hurst, Jacob Kuykendall, Touissant Dubois and Peter Jones.
The act declared the territory included within the following-
boundaries to be the limits of the borough: Hart street on
the northeast, the church lands on the southwest, the Wabash
river on the northwest and Eleventh street on the southeast.
These boundaries continued to be the limits of the old
borough until the act of the state legislature passed January
3, 1817; annexed to it "Harrison's Addition." The limits of
the borough thus extended, continued to be its limits during
the life of the borough organization. The subsequent annex-
ations to include the present limits of the city have all been
the work of the city organization.
A number of acts were afterwards passed by the state leg-
islature amendatory in character, but the most important one
was the act passed February 14, 1838. This borough organi-
52 A History op Vincennes.
zation remained in operation until it was succeeded by the
present city organization in 1856.
The old Borough of Vincennes during its long continued
existence called into her service many trustworthy men.
Among these I will name the following who filled various
positions of trust and honor under the old borough of Vin-
cennes: Jacob D. Early, John Moore, General W. Johnson,
Charles H. Tillinghast, Valentine I. Bradley, Andrew Gard-
ner, Martin Robinson, Abner T. Ellis, George B. C. Sullivan,
Owen Keily, John Ewing, John Collins, Elihu Stout, Sam-
uel Hill, Heniw D. Wheeler, J. C. S. Harrison and Jeremiah
The last meeting of the board of trustees under the old
borough organization, was held on the 7th day of February,
An election was held on the 25th clay of Januar} 7 , 1856, to
decide the question whether to abandon the old borough or-
ganization and incorporate under the general law of the state
providing for the incorporation of cities. This election called
out but a light vote. The whole number of votes cast was
only 255 of which 181 were in favor and 74 against the adop-
tion, being an affirmative majority of 107 votes in favor of
the adoption of the general law of the state for the incorpora-
tion of cities. This majority was sufficient, however, to de-
stroy the borough organization and that historical old borough
ceased to exist and the new born city of Vincennes succeeded
to its powers and franchises.
The following persons have filled the office of Mayor of
Vincennes in the order named: John Moore, James Dick,
William A. Jones, Richard J. McKenney, Henry V. Somes,
George E. Greene, William B. Robinson, James S. Pritchett,
William II. Beeson, William B. Searight, James H. Shouse,
John Wilhelm, Francis Murphy, Oliver G. Miller and George
The following persons have filled the office of clerk : James
S. Mayes, John Ewing, Albert Montgomery, Charles G.
Mathesie, George G. Tumey, Emil Grill, Charles W. East-
ham, Charles A. £ripps, Cyrus M. Allen, George E. Greene
and Charles Laugel.
The f olloA?ing have been treasurer : Andrew Armstrong,
Isaac E\ Eastham, Gerhard H. Duesterberg, Joseph Bey,
Charles W. Jones, Peter E. McCarthy, Henry B. Duesterberg,
Charles G. Mathesie, Frank H. Hoffman and Thomas East-
54 A History of Vixcexnes.
For a century after the town was founded it was without
an}' incorporation or police guardianship. During all that
time the inhabitants were honest and everybody attended Lo
his own business and suffered his neighbor to do the same.
The distinction between meum and tuum was strictly ob-
served. In fact the doors of the houses were without locks or
bars of any kind. This was the condition of affairs during
the French supremacy. With the influx of strangers from the
Atlantic States came the necessity for civil organization and
police protection. Accordingly, in 1807, the town was incor-
porated for the first time as a borough. For many years after
this the police protection of the town was satisfactorily per-
formed by the marshal alone. And for a long time after-
wards, with the assistance of a single deputy. This continued
to be the case during the life of the borough organization.
The following persons filled the office of marshal during this
period: Jeremiah Donovan, Thomas J. Beeler, Benjamin F.
Thorne and A. L. Corno} T er. After the organization of the
city government the common council, September 1, 1871,
passed an ordinance organizing a police force to assist the
marshal in keeping order and preserving the peace. The
members of the police force were to be elected by the city
council and were subject to its control, and could be removed
by the council. This police force was sufficient for the pur-
pose intended. The following persons filled the office of city
marshal under the city organization: Emanuel Meisenhelter,
John J. Worman, Jeremiah Donovan, Jacob Metzger, John
A. Pulliam, William Sachs, John T. McBride, Louis Hahn,
Frank Johnson, George M. White and Thomas Robertson.
The General Assembly at the session of 1901 amended the
act providing for a metropolitan police so as to include
Vincennes within the provisions of that law. This law had
already been in force as to many cities of the State for many
years. Bnt its provisions only included such cities as had a
larger population than Vincennes. The amendment of 1901
made the law applicable to cities having a population as large
as Vincennes. Under the metropolitan system the governor
of the State is authorized to appoint three police commis-
sioners in cities within its operation, only requiring him to
select members so far as possible from the two leading politi-
cal parties. This restriction on the appointing power of the
governor insures a non-partisan board of police commission-
ers. The governor under this act appointed as the first board
of police commissioners for Vincennes, Schuyler C. Beard,
Daniel L. Bonner and Dexter Gardner. These appointees are
all good and competent men and their appointment gave gen-
eral satisfaction to the people of the city. These police com-
missioners are empowered to make rules for the government
of the police force, to fix the number of the force ana their
compensation, and can remove the members for cause wnen
they see proper. The compensation of the commissioners is
not fixed by themselves, but by the governor. This police sys-
tem will in all probability give the city better police protec-
tion than the old. This, for the reason that there is no di-
vided responsibility in the appointment of the commissioners
or members of the force. The responsibility for the character
and qualifications of the police commissioners rests indi-
vidually with the governor, and his reputation in the matter
is directly and solety at stake and will cause him on that ac-
count to appoint qualified and worthy men without bias or
prejudice. The same responsibility rests upon the commis-
sioners in the appointment of members of the police force,
and will operate upon them in the appointments they make,
and thus a competent and trustworthy police force will al-
56 A HlSTOKY OF VlNCENNES.
ways be assured. For these reasons, in all probability the
metropolitan police system will afford the city as good protec-
tion as possible.
When this system first went into operation here there was
manifested in some quarters opposition to it. But this oppo^-
sition and criticism was premature and not well founded.
The system has not yet been given a fair trial, and its work-
ings are not yet known. This opposition was in part due to
personal considerations, but mainly to partisan prejudice on
account of its being supposed to be a Republican measure.
But this view is erroneous. It is not a Republican measure,
but was originally introduced as a Democratic measure and
supported by such men as Thomas A. Hendricks, Joseph E.
McDonald, William H. English, Isaac P. G-ray and Richard
J. Bright. But this partisan view should not be entertained.
The system should be given a fair trial, and it will be devel-
oped that it is a better system than the old.
Vincennes almost from the organization of the territory,
has been liberally supplied with newspapers. The establish-
ment of a newspaper in a place is an important era in its
history. The press is the great conduit through which intel-
ligence is generally disseminated among the masses. It
brings communities in close contact with each other and
tends in an eminent degree to enlighten, refine and elevate
the character of the masses generally.
The first newspaper established in Vincennes, and in fact
in the whole territory, now comprising the State of Indiana,
was the Western Sun, by Elihu Stout. The first number of
this paper was issued on July 4th, 1804. It required much
labor and endurance to establish this paper. The material for
the purpose had to be procured in Kentucky and transported
here on pack horses. There were no roads leading from Vin-
cennes to the East at that time. Mr. Stout was compelled to
take three horses on his trip to Kentucky to procure material
and travel through the wilderness. One of the horses was
for himself to ride and the other two for the purpose of carry-
ing the material. But he persevered and issued his first num-
ber July 4, 1804. The publication was regularly continued
for nearty two years, when the office was destroyed by fire.
But not discouraged, he procured from Kentucky other ma-
terial, and on the 4th of July, 1807, issued the first number of
his resurrected paper. He continued its publication with
regularity until November, 1845, when he was appointed
Postmaster at Vincennes, and sold the paper to John R.
58 A History op Vincennes.
Jones. During the time Mr. Stout published the paper he
took in partnership many different persons who soon became
discouraged and fell by the wayside. The names of these
persons it is not necessary to state. After he sold the paper to
Jones, it was neglected and for a time its publication sus-
pended. During this time attempts were made to start vari-
ous papers under different names, but they were all short
lived, and soon passed away and were forgotten. Among the
number may be mentioned: "Jones' Vincennes Sentinel,"
"The Indiana Patriot," "The Vincennes Courant," "The
Patriot and Courant." Finally George E. Greene in 1856,
purchased the paper and re-issued it under its old name,
"Western Sun." From the time he took possession, the paper
has been a success, financially and politically, and has become
a leading Democratic paper in Southern Indiana. Mr. Greene
commenced the publication of a semi-weekly when he took
charge and Mr. Purcell, the present proprietor, in 1879 com-
menced the publication of a daily. Mr. Greene died in 1870
and the paper was jrarchased by Gen. Reuben C. Kise. He
soon died and the paper was purchased by Dr. Alfred Patton.
He subsequently sold the establishment to Andrew J. Thomas
& Co. It passed from them, to the possession of Royal E.
Purcell, the present projmetor.
In the early days of the territory many different news-
papers were attempted to be started here by Samuel Hill,
John Ewing and Mr. Osborn, but all these ventures were fail-
ures, and the papers they started soon passed out of existence.
In 1816 the Indiana Sentinel was started by X. Blackman,
for Willis Fellows, and was published in a brick building
opposite the Vincennes steam mill in the upper part of the
city, now occupied by "Harrison Park." This paper was
started in the interest of the steam mill company and to ad-
vance and advertise its business. The publication of the
paper was continued until the failure of the steam mill com-
pany some four or five years after, when its publication
In 1808 a paper was started here in the interest of Jona-
than Jennings, who was a candidate for Territorial Delegate
to Congress against Thomas Randolph, who was then District
Attorney of the United States for the Indiana territory. Jen-
nings was strongly opposed to the introduction of slavery in
the territory and he claimed that Randolph was at heart in
favor of its introduction. To advance his political interests,
a paper was started here which took strong ground against
the introduction of slavery in the territory and warmly advo-
cated the election of Jennings. But this venture, like all its
predecessors, was short lived and ceased to exist with the
occasion that called it forth.
The first paper that can be said to have been founded here
in opposition to the Sun was the Vincennes Gazette, started
by Richard Y. Caddington in 1830. This paper was ably
edited and became the organ of the Whig party, and was a
success. Mr. Caddington continued its publication until
1855. The paper was then sold to Harvey Mason & Co., who
successfully continued its publication until May 28, 1859,
when it became the property of Dr. II. M. Smith and M. P.
Gee. In 1861 William Denny became proprietor and con-
tinued its publication until 1862, when Cyrus M. Allen and
Dr. H. M. Smith became owners. In a few months Charles
I. Williams became proprietor and Cyrus M. Allen continued
as editor. In May, 1863, John M. Wilson became proprietor
with T. C. Shuber as editor. In January, 1864, William H.
Jackson succeeded Shuber as editor. In a few months it
passed into the hands of William H. Jackson and John M.
Griffin. On October M, 1865, John M. Griffin became sole
60 A History of Vincennes.
proprietor and the old Vincennes Gazette soon ceased to
On the 24th February, 1854, William H. Jackson and
James G. Hutchinson commenced the publication of the
"News of the Day." This was a paper devoted to the cause
of the Know Nothing party and being located in a community
hostile to that party, it soon expired a natural death for want
The "Old Post Union" was started by James G. Hutchinson,
March 7, 1862. This paper survived but a very short time,
and was succeeeded by the "Vincennes Times," the publica-
tion of which was commenced by E. Y. Caddington and Will-
iam H. Jackson. Mr. Jackson retired from the paper and
was succeeded by Gen. Lazarus Noble, December 6, 1873. The
paper was sold to Malachi Krebs, October 17, 1875, but Krebs
failed to pay the purchase money and the paper passed to
James J. Mayes, John Mallet and A. V. Crotts. Mr. Grotts
ceased his connection with the paper in 1879 and it soon
after ceased to exist.
The "Vincennes Commercial" was established by S. F.
Horrall, A. Horrall and N. Horrall, March 13, 1877, under
the firm name of S. F. Horrall & Sons. This paper was de-
voted to the interests of the Eepublican party and was con-
tinued by its founders until February 15, 1881, when it passed
into the hands of the "Commercial Company," with T. H.
Adams as editor. Tbe paper was subsequently purchased by
Mr. Adams, who became the sole proprietor and editor, and
has continued its publication until the present time. In ad-
dition to a weekly a daily edition has been successfully and
profitably issued. It is ably conducted and edited and claims
to be the organ of the Eepublican party in this county.
The "Vincennes News" was established by W. W. Bailey &
Co. with Warren Worth Bailey as editor in 1877. This was
a weekly paper and was edited with marked ability. It
claimed to be a Democratic paper, but was erratic in its course,
and was never recognized as the organ of the Democratic
party. It was generally thought to be a political guerilla. It
advocated the Henry George theory of a single tax and for
want of sufficient patronage ceased to exist about 1884.
I must not omit to notice the "Vincennes Joker and Jocu-
lar Jingler," a small newspaper started here in 1846, in the
interest of merriment and good feeling. It was a spicy little
sheet and was devoted to personal criticism of a harmless
nature. It was ably edited by D. C. Kobinson and William
H. Jackson, and was very popular as long as published, but
was short lived and soon disappeared.
The "National Era" was founded here by D. W. and A. L.
Harbison, devoted to the principles of the Populist party.
But with the passing of that party it lost its prestige although
its publication is still continued.
The "Knox County Democrat" was started by Allen Camp-
bell. It was originally started in Monroe City, but was sub-
sequently removed to this place and its publication continued
here for several years by Mr. Campbell. It was a weekly
paper and strongly advocated the free coinage of silver. Mr.
Campbell sold the paper to Frank Signor and the paper was
published by him for some time. He finally sold it to its
present proprietors, Chancellor and Comfort. Its publication
is still continued and it is Democratic in politics.
The "Ladies' Home Ideal" is a monthly periodical pub-
lished by Thomas H. Adams. It was started a few years ago
and its publication is still continued. It is especially de-
signed to advertise and promote the sale of patent medicines,
of which Mr. Adams is proprietor.
The "Vincennes Capital" is the last newspaper venture in
Vincennes. It has rapidly worked its way to the front and
62 A History op Vincennes.
although young in years, is now regarded as the peer of any
paper published in Vincennes. It is enterprising and strives
to give its patrons the latest news and in this is successful.
It is always alive to the best interests of Vincennes and is
ever planning and suggesting means to advance the city and
help build it up. It publishes both a weekly and daily edi-
tion. It is ably edited and is strongly in the interest of Re-
publican principles and men.
Vincennes is rich in material of historic interest. There
centre around her memories of a past extending beyond the
recollections of the living, and reaching farther and farther
backward till the} 7 gradually fade away and are lost and
shrouded in the mists of conjecture. The date when the site
of Vincennes was first visited by civilized man cannot be de-
termined with precision at this time, and probably never can
be. But it was in all probability as early as the year 16G0.
This is not mere speculation, but can be reasoned out as a
necessary sequitur by comparison with the happening of well
known and authentic occurrences. Bancroft, in his history
of the United States, says, "That no bay, no lake, no river, no
mountain in all the vast expanse of this continent has ever
yet been visited by any explorer but that a Jesuit missionary
had been there before him." It is a well known and admitted
fact that the early Jesuit missionaries in the X 1 orthwest were
actuated by no love of gain, but for the sole purpose of dis-
covery and the conversion of the Indian tribes to Christianity.
To accomplish this they traversed the vast wilderness of the
Northwest, visiting the Indians in their villages throughout
the vast country bordering on the great lakes, the Mississippi,
the Illinois and the Wabash Rivers. Jacques Marquette was
one of the most celebrated and intrepid of these missionaries.
He visited all parts of the Northwest. He circumnavigated
Lake Superior, the largest and most westerly of the great
lakes, and with Joliet sailed down the Mississippi river and is
well known to have been in the Wabash country. Bishop
Brute in his writings, says, "That the St, Joseph portage was
A History of Vincennes.
used by Father Marquette long before La Salle and Hennepin
passed through that portage." He further says that "Father
Marquette and Allonez passed through that portage on their
way to the 'Ouachasche' country soon after 1660. While
there is no positive evidence that Father Marquette was ever
at the site of Vincennes, yet reasoning by the inductive pro-
cess we are bound to conclude he was here as early as 1660.
It would be unreasonable to suppose that this indefatigable
worker for the conversion of the Indians would fail to visit
so important a point in the Wabash Valley as this when he
OLD CATHOLIC CHURCH.
was known to be in its vicinity. This site was a favorite re-
sort for all the Indian tribes on both sides of the Wabash
Eiver. It was a safe place of abode for them in consequence
of its high situation and the conditions then existing in this
part of the surrounding country. From the earliest times
until in very recent years the entire country on both sides of
the Wabash Eiver were covered with water many feet deep
twice during each year during the January and June freshets.
During these flood seasons the country for hundreds of miles
in all directions from the site of Vincennes was covered with
water many feet deep and offered no suitable abiding place
for the Indians. As late as 1846 the Wabash and Embarras
Rivers annually overflowed their banks and united their
waters, covering the intervening space of eight miles to a
depth of seven or eight feet. And in the same way by
overflow the White River united its waters with the Wabash
to the east to a like depth. In 1816 the steamboat Daniel
Boone was carried by the force of the overflow current a short
distance above Yincennes from the channel of the Wabash
River out into the prairie for over a mile, and was only re-
turned to the river with difficulty. And in the same year the
United States mail was carried from Vincennes over the over-
flowed prairies on the Illinois side to the high ground on the
Embarras River at Lawrenceville. And this was not an un-
usual or singular occurrence, but happened frequently,
until the country was protected by levies. These conditions
made the site of Vincennes a resort and place of abode for the
Indians, as it was always on high ground above the reach of
any flood. It was here they had their permanent village and
fields which were still visible when the white settlers came to
the place. It was here they had their council houses and
where all the surrounding tribes assembled many times dur-
ing the year when they returned from the chase or forage.
And such a place, where so many of the Indians could be
easily found, it is contrary to reason to suppose that such a
.zealous missionary as Father Marquette would fail to visit
when he was in the Wabash country.
I wish to locate Father Marquette at the site of Vincennes,
as it will fix the probable date of his visit. It is well known
that he left the Jesuit mission at Kaskaskia a sick and worn-
out man in consequence of his labors and exposure, to return
to St. Ignace, a few days after Easter, 167 5. On this, his
final trip, he travelled by way of the St. Joseph portage. He
died May 18, 1675, ascending the eastern shore of Lake Mich-
66 A History op Vincennes.
igan, and was buried in the sands of the lake shore before he
reached his destination. Therefore he must have visited the
site of Vincennes, if at all, prior to 1675, and in all proba-
bility about 1G60. I have endeavored to locate Father Mar-
quette here, as he is a well-known historic character.
However it may be whether Father Marquette was ever at
the site of Vincennes, it is certain beyond a reasonable
doubt that some Jesuit missionary had been here prior to
1700. They had accomplished wonderful results in convert-
ing the Indians that inhabited the country about the present
site of Vincennes. The records of St. Francis Xavier Church,
as preserved (I use the words "as preserved" as Bishop Brute
used them whenever he referred to these records) show from
April, 1719, for half a century after the greater part of the
entries of baptisms, marriages and funerals were of Indian
converts. This vast number of Indian converts to the faith
as evidenced by these records as preserved show that the work
of the missionaries, while fruitful of good, was not the work
of a day or month, but of many years. The untamed savages
of the forest could not be converted to Christianity at short
notice. The labors of the missionaries were not only slow,
but dangerous. In this connection Judge Law in his address
delivered on February 22, 1838, says :
"It was not only toil of hunger and cold that the Jesuit
missionaries of the cross were called upon to endure, but
many, very many were tomahawked, or what was far worse,,
burned at the stake. No sooner was it known that their pre-
decessors had perished at the stake or by the scalping knife
than new recruits offered their services to fill their places..
In fact a mission among the Indians was a labor of love to
these heralds of the cross."
From the statements already made it seems clear that the
site of Vincennes had been visited by white men long before
1700, and probably as early as 1660. But these visits of civ-
ilized men were made in some eases for purposes of trade and
traffic with the Indians, or by Jesuit missionaries for the pur-
pose of spreading the true faith among the Indian tribes.
And these early visits cannot be referred to as the date of the
actual founding and permanent settlement of Vmcennes.
But there are other evidences more tangible and reliable thai
will throw much light on the subject to which I shall now
refer, and which fixes the true date of its founding about
When the Ind'ana Territory was organized in 1800 and the
capital of the Territory fixed at Vincennes, it at once became
a centre of interest and attracted the cream of the energetic,
aspiring and cultivated men from all the older States of the
Union. Vincennes was a prominent point in the west before
1800, and many eminent men came and settled here as early
as 1780. But the organization of the territory gave fresh im-
pulse and prominence to the place and greatly accelerated its
increase in population and wealth. John Law, Elihu Stout,
John Ewing and Samuel Judah and other prominent citizens
who came and located here between 1800 and 1820 asserted
that the population of the place by 1820 was as great as it is
today. But the loss of the capital and the dreadful epidemic
of 1820 that visited the place that year discouraged and terri-
fied the citizens and depopulated the place, and for years re-
tarded its growth.
The many educated and distinguished men who came and
located at Vincennes when the territory was organized, took
a deep interest in everything calculated to promote and ad-
vance the prosperity of the place. In the early days of the
territorial government, and before 1809, they procured the
passage by the territorial legislature of many incorporations
with this object in view. Among these incorporations I will
enumerate the following three : The Vincennes University,
The Vincennes Library, and The Vincennes Historical and
68 A History of Vincennes.
Antiquarian Society. The object of the last named corpora-
tion, as its name implies, was to investige and establish au-
thentic evidence concerning the early history of the place.
Among the many distinguished men who were members of the
Vincennes Historical and Antiquarian Society I will enumer-
ate the following: William Henry Harrison, John Gibson,
Waller Taylor, Nathaniel Ewing, John Badollet, Elihu
Stout, Moses Tabbs, Isaac Blackford, Thomas Eandolph,
John Law, John Ewing, Benjamin Parke, George Eodgers
Clark Sullivan, Samuel Judah and many others equally dis-
tinguished. Nearly all of these distinguished men came here
about the year 1800. They found when they came old set-
tlers who had been connected with the place for periods rang-
ing from twenty-five to seventy-five years before 1800. And
these old people had knoAvledge of the place from those who
had been living here before them extending back to a period
prior to 1700. Among these old people I will enumerate
Francis Vigo Laurent Bazadone, Angeline Burdalow, Paul
Gamelin, John Rice Jones and General W. Johnson.
One of the first subjects that occupied the attention of the
Vincennes Historical and Antiquarian Society was fixing the
date when Vincennes was settled by the French. Before 1820
the date of the settlement of Vincennes by the French was
fixed by the Vincennes Historical and Antiquarian Society
at the year 1680. Here the matter quietly rested until the ad-
vent of Bishop Brute in 1834. He found in the church li-
brary connected with St. Francis Xavier church registers
and many manuscript documents which had been neglected,
as no one had before him been inclined to burn the midnight
oil in looking them over, page by page, the only way to ob-
tain the valuable historic information they contained, as they
were not indexed, but a confused mass. But Bishop Brute
did this. He furnished the public, from time to time,
through the columns of the Western Sun newspaper the re-
suits of this investigation. He was a studious, careful and
truthful man, and made no statement unless fully sustained
by authority in making it, and which can be relied on as cot
rect. He stated that he had found evidence in the church
records here and in the records of the Mission of St. Louis of
Peoria, and the Church of the Immaculate Conception of
the Virgin Mary at Kaskaskia, Illinois, and the recorder's
office there, that both the town of Yincennes (not then known
b}' that name), and the Church of St. Francis Xavier here
were both in existence as early as 1708, and perhaps earlier.
And in one of his last communications published in the
Western Sun he says he will continue the search, and if any-
thing additional is found indicating an earlier date he will
communicate it to the public. But his investigations were
unfortunately terminated by his death in June, 1839. In
this connection I will remark that in 1835 Bishop Brute, to
familiarize himself with the wants of his immense diocese,
embracing all of Indiana and Illinois, made a pastoral visit
in person, travelling on horseback, to all the missionary sta-
tions in that vast territory and carefully examined the church
records they contained. He made a detailed report of this
pastoral visit through his diocese in his own happy manner
to the Leopoldine Association in France in return for assist-
ance lent him to build up his diocese, a great part of which
report is inserted in Father Allerding's (now bishop of Fort
Wayne, Indiana) History of the Diocese of Vincennes.
The communications of Bishop Brute on the subject of the
early settlement of Yincennes published in the Western Sun
revived interest in the question and the Yincennes Historical
and Antiquarian Society again considered it. John Law, at
the request of this society, delivered his celebrated address on
February 22, 1839, when the question was under discussion
by this society for the second time. Upon this reconsidera-
tion that society before 1840, settled upon 1683 as the date
70 A History of Vincennes.
of the settlement of Vincennes by the French. This decision
of that society was generally accepted by the citizens of Vin-
cennes as conclusive of the question, and it became a common
saying, as I well remember, and as many old citizens of Vin-
cennes now living also remember, that Vincennes was settled
the y°,ar after Philadelphia. It is well known as a historic
fact that Philadelphia was settled in 1682.
Were these men qualified and competent to examine, adju-
dicate and determine this question? It is sure they were far
better qualified than persons living at a distance who have
written upon and expressed opinions as to the true date of
the settlement of A r incennes. To illustrate this I will only
refer to three members of the Vincennes .Historical and An-
tiquarian Society, and the peculiar opportunities they pos-
sessed of examining and passing a. reliable judgment upon the
question. These three members are Nathaniel Ewing, John
Badollet and Elihu Stout. The two first came to Vincennes
almost with the advent of the territorial government in 1800.
The first as receiver of public monies, and the second as the
register of the United States land office in this land district.
The third came a little later in the spring of 1804. They
were all members of that society and took an active part in
the discussion of the question. Messrs. Ewing and Badollet
were the equals intellectually of any of the able men who
came to Vincennes in territorial days. They all located here
permanently and died and were buried here. They all pos-
sessed superior advantages for examining and determining
this question above others from the very nature of their sev-
eral employments. Elihu Stout published the first newspaper
in the Northwest Territory at this place, commencing on July
4, 1804, and continuing its publication until the fall of 1845,
and from the nature of his business came in contact with the
people generally and ascertained their views upon all public
questions. Messrs. Ewing and Badollet constituted the board
of commissioners appointed by the Federal Government to
examine and adjust land titles founded upon the grants of
land to the early French settlers from the different com-
mandants of the post while the country was under the juris-
diction of France, and which grants had been secured to the
several grantees by treaty stipulations and acts of Congress.
These commissioners held their sessions at Vincennes from
1804 to 1810, and examined and passed upon these old French
land grants reaching back to the first settlement of Vincennes
by the French. And as there was no record or documentary
evidence of these old French grants, the commissioners were
compelled to hear oral testimony to establish them. This nec-
essarily brought them in close contact in their official capacity
with the old French settlers who could give testimony con-
cerning these French land grants extending back in many
cases to the first settlement of Vincennes by the French.
These were the men who took an active part in the discus-
sion of the question as to the date of the settlement of Vin-
cennes by the French, and who finally fixed the date of settle-
ment at 1683. Messrs Ewing and Badollet were perhaps bet-
ter qualified to determine this question than any other per-
sons from the very nature of their employment in tracing
back matters to the very beginning. Is not more reliance and
confidence due and should be given in determining this ques-
tion to the opinions and conclusions of men who lived and
died in Vincennes and were actually a part of its history than
upon the mere dicta and opinions of men who never lived
here, nor visited the place, or who were here only for a few
days, and with these crude and imperfect impressions thus
obtained in hasty visits went off and published books purport-
ing to give facts? Count Volney, the celebrated traveller,
who was here in 1796 for a few days only, states in the history
of his travels that the place was settled by the French in 1735.
David Thomas, who was here at a much later date, and for a
72 A History op Vincennes.
few days only, follows in his wake and gives the erroneous
date given by Count Volney. Monette, Flint and Scott, who
have all given an opinion on the subject of the date of the
settlement of Vincennes by the French were never here so far
as I know, and derived their information from second-hand
sources upon which they based their opinions and conclusions.
John B. Dillon, who published a book purporting to be a his-
tory of Indiana, on the question of the date of the settlement
of Vincennes by the French, cannot be regarded as any au-
thority on the subject against the combined opinions of such
men as I have referred to.
It is matter of sincere regret that the Vincennes Historical
and Antiquarian Society was permitted to perish for want of
appreciation and support. The valuable collection of im-
portant physical specimens contained in its museum, and its
documents and records were suffered to be carried off and
scattered, and are not now for the greater part in existence,
or at least are not accessible to the public.
But there are other evidences bearing on the subject of the
date of the settlement of Vincennes by the French to which I
will now refer. It is recorded in the Quebec annals that
Francois Morganne de Vincenne, an officer in the service of
the King of France, was commissioned for the purpose and
started from Detroit in the early spring of 1702 with French
troops to build three forts. One was to be built at the junc-
tion of the St. Mary's and St. Joseph rivers, where they form
the Maumee river, where the city of Fort Wayne now stands.
The second was to be built on the Wabash river on the Weeo
plains, about seven miles below the site of the present city of
Lafayette. The third was to be built on the "Colline gravois."*
on the Wabash river, the site of the present city of Vincennes.
The Quebec annals also state that he came to this place on
that mission and actually built a fort in the fall of 1702. He
was accompanied according to the annals by a Jesuit mission-
ary, who offered up the Holy Sacrifice of the mass on the bank
of the Wabash river in the open air near where the fort was to
be built in the presence of the troops who came to build the
fort and many Indians. If the Quebec annals are reliable
and satisfactory authority then the evidence of the actual
founding of Vincennes may be regarded as conclusive.
But it has been claimed by some, on what authority I do
not know, that the Quebec annals are not in all cases accurate
and reliable in fixing the dates of the happening of events.
This may be true in some cases, especially concerning some of
the Jesuit missions in the wilderness of the West. This in-
accuracy in some instances results from the fact that many of
these missions were 2,500 miles distant from the place where
the annals were compiled and published. This inaccuracy
results also, if there is found any inaccuracy which I do not
admit from the great distance of some of the missions from
Quebec where they were published, the uncertain and difficult
mode of communication between them and the lapse of time
after the happening of the events related and their communi-
cation to the mother house of the Jesuit order and before the
information was received and the record made and published.
But in no instance can it be shown that the events related did
not actually happen and the date assigned, if inaccurate in any
case which I deny, is more apt to be too recent rather than too
remote. The Quebec annals state that the French came here
in 1702 and built a fort, which actually remained standing to
a period within the recollection of persons living in Vincennes
at the present time. If it cannot be shown that this fact re-
cited in the Quebec annals is not correct then I hold the Que-
bec annals should definitely settle the question if there is any
question about the matter.
The writer has not personally inspected the Quebec annals
and makes the above statement of their contents on the au-
thority of Bishop Brute, Bishop Hailandiere, Father Aller-
74 A History of Vincennes.
ding in his history and Edmund Mallet of the Carroll Insti-
tute at Washington City, D. C.
What are the Quebec annals? They comprise 72 volumes,
printed by the Jesuit Fathers at Quebec, containing the rela-
tions and transactions of the Jesuit missionaries in the dif-
ferent missions of the Jesuit order in the Northwest. They
commence in the year 1610 and continue to the year 1780,
when the Jesuit order was suppressed. They are either in the
French, Latin or Italian languages according to the national-
ity of the missionary who wrote them. Twenty of these vol-
umes are now in the library connected with St. Francis
Xavier Church of this city. But unfortunately they do not
go back to the date of the settlement of Vincennes. These
annals were not until very recently within reach of the gen-
eral student. It is certain these annals contain the most re-
liable historic information concerning discoveries and settle-
ments in the Northwest Territory. So important is the his-
torical knowledge contained in these annals that the Histor-
ical Society of Wisconsin which has done so much to deter-
mine historic events in the west when the celebrated historian,
Lyman C. Draper, was secretary of that society determined in
1894 to have the Quebec annals translated and published in
the English language. This herculean task was immediately
commenced by a competent force of translators and prose-
cuted until the work was completed, and the important his-
toric information contained in the annals brought within
reach of the general student. The writer endeavored to pro-
cure a copy of this translation covering the period of the
early settlement of Vincennes, but could not procure them, as
no broken volumes would be sold, but the entire set must be
taken. An effort was then made to have those important vol-
umes purchased and placed in the city library, but the effort
failed and these important works were not secured for the
city library, but their places have been filled with useless
works of fiction of no real value. This action was akin to
that want of foresight which permitted the Harrison mansion
to pass into private hands instead of being purchased for a
public museum and library for the use of the city, as it was
from 1812 to 1832, when occupied by John Cleves Symmes
Harrison, a son of General Harrison.
The work of translating and publishing in the English lan-
guage has just been completed. The English edition was
published by Burrows Bros., publishers of Cleveland, 0., un-
der the title of "The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents
Containing the Travels and Explorations of the Jesuit Mis-
sionaries in New France from 1610 to 179 1." The work is
edited by Reuben Gold Thwaites, the present secretary of the
Wisconsin Historical Society. In the conclusion of the 72nd
and last volume he writes as follows :
"The editors decided to go to the sources never depending
-on a printed version when ever the original manuscript could
be obtained, thereby elminating so far as might be the changes
introduced by such earlier copyists and reprinters as had
taken more or less liberties with the text. Approaching the
task with no conscious prejudices of race or religion, it has
been the sole desire of the editor impartially to collect, pre-
serve and annotate the great body of documents having so im-
portant a bearing upon the foundations of American history."
The 72nd and last volume of these relations has just been
issued from the press of Burrows Bros., of Cleveland, 0., the
But there are other and abundant evidence of equal au-
thenticity and credibility upon the subject of the settlement
of Virjcennes by the French to which I will now refer. There
is abundant and conclusive evidence in the writings of Bishop
Brute that the French built a fort and made a permanent set-
tlement here about the beginning of the year 1700. In a
76 A History of Vincennes.
communication published in the Western Sun newspaper of
Saturday, April 27, 1839, he states:
"We find that Father John Mermet came from Quebec to
St. Louis of Peoria in 1708 on his way to the post on the
The Mission of St. Louis of Peoria referred to by the
Bishop was situated on what was then called Lake Peoria,
but which in fact was only an expansion of the Illinois River
where the city of Peoria in Illinois, is now located. This was
one of the Jesuit missionary stations which Bishop Brute vis-
ited and examined its church records on his pastoral visit in
1835. This Father Mermet is no myth, but on the contrary a
well-known historic character. He remained at this place as
a missionary priest from the time he came in 1708 until the
latter part of November, 1712, when he returned to Kas-
kaskai, where he remained until his death in 1728, and was
buried there in the church of the Immaculate Conception.
He left writings which Bishop Brute personally inspected on
his visit to Kaskaskia in 1835, and which conclusively show
that Father Mermet was here in 1708. From his writings
Bishop Brute made an extract which he published in the
Western Sun of Saturday, April 27, 1839, as follows :
"An epidemic desolated the village in 1708, and the In-
dians died in great numbers. The jugglers kept up their de-
lusions. They ordered a great sacrifice of their dogs. Forty
of these poor animals, innocent as they were of the cause of
the epidemic, to satisfy their manitoes, were immolated and
carried on poles in a solemn procession around the fort.
Realize, if you can in mind, the wretched procession on one
side led on by these fanatical jugglers, and the gaze of the
soldiers and their officers, of the traders and the whole popu-
lation of the village at that time listening to the loud appeals
of the Indians."
This unquestioned evidence of Father Mermet shows con-
clusively that the fort and village were here in 1708. It
shows also that he was the resident priest or missionary here
But there is other and very sufficient evidence to corrob-
orate the statement of Father Mermet. Father Gabriel
Marest, missionary of the Society of Jesus, stationed at Kas-
kaskai, from a date as early as 1700, until long after 1725,
conclusively corroborates the fact that Father Mermet was
sent here as a missionary some time before 1712, but the pre-
cise date when he was sent is not given. The Mission of the
Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin atKaskaskia,
111., was the principal mission and headquarters of the Jesuits
in the Northwest Territory. From a letter written by him,
dated at Kaskaskia, November 9, 1712, and addressed to
Father German General of the Jesuit Order in Paris, France
we quote as follows :
"The French having lately established a fort on the river
"Onabasche," demanded a priest or missionary, and Father
John Mermet was sent to them."
This latter is inserted in a historic work of undoubted re-
liability published in Paris, France, in the year 1761. It is
inserted in that historic work on page 325 thereof. It will be
observed that the letter does not give the precise date when
the French built or established a fort on the "Ouabasche," but
it must have been some years before November 9, 1712, the
date of the letter, for the French inhabitants to have so in-
creased in numbers at that early date to have merited and
demanded the services of a missionary.
In the year 1837 an old oak tree standing on the west bank
of the Wabash River in Vermillion county, Indiana, near the
town of Eugene, was felled. An axe of French manufacture
was found embedded in the tree. The annual growths around
the axe were counted by persons skilled in matter of that kind
and it was found that the annual growths around the axe in-
78 A History of Vincennes.
dicatecl that it had been inserted in the tree at a period pos-
sibly as early as 1700, and certainly not later than 1705. The
difficulty in fixing the exact date when the axe was inserted
was in consequence of the blending of the growths around the
axe where the wound was inflicted on the tree. On this ac-
count the blending and confusion of growths the exact date
of its insertion could not be determined with greater precis-
ion than between the year 1700 and 1705. One hundred and
twenty-seven growths were distinct, and a number immediate-
ly around the axe confused. It was stated at the time the axe
was found that it had been inserted in the tree by some Jesuit
missionary on his lonely journey through the wilderness.
But this could not be in the nature of things as it is well
known that the Jesuit missionaries among the Indians of the
Northwest never carried axes or weapons of any kind. They
only carried crosses on their lonely pilgrimage through the
wilderness. Neither could it have been inserted by one of a
small party who carried few axes, as its loss would have been
noticed and the implement recovered. It was inserted by one
of a large party, and its loss was not noticed on account of the
large number they carried. It is reasonable to suppose this
axe was inserted in that oak tree by one of the men accom-
panying de Vincenne on his way down the Wabash Eiver to
this place in the fall of 1702 to build the fort here. And I
claim, with reason, that this is a natural record aiding and
contributing by its silent and unimpeachable testimony in
fixing the date of the building of the fort here, and the actual
founding of Vincennes about the year 1700.
Clark's Kaskaskia Campaign. 79
clark's kaskaskia campaign.
The inhabitants in the Northwest at the time of its acqui-
sition by Great Britain in 1763, were almost, if not exclu-
sively, French people or the descendants of French, and were
all animated by that common race prejudice that then ex-
isted and still exists between the English and French people.
They were not reconciled to the change of ruler and always
regretted that by the terms of the treaty of Paris this promis-
ing and rich country had been wrested from their beloved
France. This race prejudice is well known to exist among all
peoples of different nationalities and can never be oblit-
erated, and is still active and potent after the lapse of
centuries. As an illustration, take the Irish race,
and it is Avell known that a bitter hatred exists
between the Celt and the Anglo Saxon. Show me an Irish
Catholic in any quarter of the habitable globe, whether be-
neath the burning rays of a tropical sun, or the frozen regions
of the North, and I will at the same time show you a bitter
and determined foe of the British government. This hatred
has been engendered by the centuries of injustice and oppres-
sion that relentless power has inflicted upon their native
isle. They are ever ready to seize upon any occasion to raise
their hand against the oppressor. During the Revolutionary
War it filled the roster of officers and the ranks of the revo-
lutionary soldiery with Irishmen. Among the forces under
George Rogers Clark, that took part in the capture of Kaskas-
kia, there were many Irishmen, and found there in conse-
quence of this race prejudice. Of the 150 men that are said
to have composed his force when he started upon his Kaskas-
80 A History of Vincennes.
Ida campaign, the following were Irishmen, either by birth
or descent: Lieutenant-Colonel John Montgomery, Major
Thomas Quick, Captain Eichard McCarty, John Rodgers,
John Williams, Lieutenant Valentine Dalton, James Mont-
gomery, James Robertson, Lawrence Slaughter, John Swann,
Sergeants John Brand, James Brown, Michael Miles, John
Moore, John O'Rear, Robert Patterson, John Vaughan, John
Williams, Privates John Ash, Thomas Batten, William Bell,
James Bigger, John Bayle, James Bryant, Edward Bulger,
Nicholas Burke, John Campbell, Andrew Conore, Thomas
Clifton, Dennis Chohern, Cornelius Copelancl, John Cowan,
James Curry, Robert Davis, Frederick Doherty, Neal Doh-
erty, Patrick Dorn, John Duff, Edward Fear, Samuel Finley,
James Finley, James Finn, John McFlanagan, Michael Glass,
David Glenn, Francis Godfrey, John Green, John Grimes,
William Gwin, Silas Harland, Hugh Henry, Barney Higgins,
John Hughes, Edward Johnson, Mathew Jones, John Jaynes,
William Learne, Richard Lutterell, John Lyons, Joseph
Lyons, Isaac McBride, Francis McDermott, David McDonald,
John McGann, Alexander Mclntyre, George McManus, John
McMamus, John McManus, Jr., Samuel McMillen, James
McNutt, Francis Mahoney, Patrick Marr, Charles Martin,
John Montgomery, John Moore, Thomas Moore, John
Murphy, Edward Murray, Peter Newton, Michael O'Hara,
Daniel O'Bear, Peter Preist, William Parcell, William Slack,
Francis Spellman, John Talley, Joseph Thornton, Daniel
Tiger, Barney Whallen and Dominique Welch.
And what, was it that induced Marquie de La Fayette
Count de Grasse and Count de Rochambeau to come and take
part in our revolution ? It was not for any love of liberty, as
we understand, and use that word. The two latter were offi-
cers in the service of the King of France, long before and long
afterwards. It was a desire to aid their own country. It was
a military stratagem to attack the English as it were in the
Clark's Kaskaskia Campaign. 81
rear by aiding her revolted colonies, and thus effect her dis-
memberment and weakening of that power. And all this was
brought about by race prejudice. By this, I do not wish to
detract in the least, from the debt of gratitude we owe these
men, and all others who rendered our country assistance in
time of need. I only go beneath the outward surface of things
and indicate the controlling motives that prompted their
The idea that originated the military movement against
Kaskaskia was based upon the race prejudice, known to exist
between the French and English. It was known to the au-
thorities of Virginia that all the inhabitants of Kaskaskia
were Frenchmen, either by birth or descent. It was also
equally known that they all chafed under Britsh domination
and would be willing at any favorable opportunity to throw it
off. This knowledge justified the authorities of Virginia in
making the attempt. It could not be supposed that any force
Virginia could send at that time against Kaskaskia, if met
with active opposition, would be crowned with success. The
condition of affairs at Kaskaskia may have been obtained from
some of the French officers in the American army. There can
be no doubt in the mind of an intelligent man that the Vir-
ginia authorities obtained it from some source before they
countenanced and authorized the expedition against Kaskas-
kia. Otherwise the project in view of the fact that the state was
involved in a death struggle at home, would have been fool-
hardy and ridiculous. And this debt of gratitude or moral
obligation which the American people were under to the
"French and Canadian inhabitants and other settlers of the
Kaskaskia,, St. Vincents and the neighboring villages" of the
territory northwest of the Ohio River for their throwing off
the allegiance of Great Britain and acknowledging themselves
citizens of Virginia at the bare request of Col. Clarke, with-
out offering any resistance, was tacitly acknowledged by the
82 A History op Vincennes.
Federal Government upon acquiring the territory from Vir-
ginia in 1783.
It will be remembered that the territory northwest of the
Ohio Kiver was acquired by the State of Virginia by her
troops under Col. Clarke, acting under the commission of
Patrick Henry, the Governor of Virginia, Kaskaskia in July,
1778, and St. Vincents in February, 1779. This was during
the Bevolutionary War and before the independence of the
American colonies had been acknowledged by Great Britain.
The United States by their act of September 6th, 1780, rec-
ommended to the several states having claims to waste and
unapprojDriatecl lands in the western country, "to make a lib-
eral cession of such lands to the United States for the com-
mon benefit of the Union." The State of Virginia in ac-
cordance with said recommendation of Congress, did by her
act passed on the 2d day of January, 1781, agree to the rec-
ommendation of Congress subject to the following conditions,
viz: 1st, that the territory so ceded should be divided into
states and admitted into the Union on the same footing as the
original states ; 2d, that the expenses of Virginia in acquiring
said territory should be paid to her by the United States ; 3d,
"that the French and Canadian inhabitants and other settlers
of the Kaskaskia, St. Vincents and neighboring villages,
who professed themselves citizens of Virginia, should have
their possessions and titles confirmed to them."
It is further known that the United States by the act of
September, 1783, acceded to these conditions. It is further
known that the State of Virginia subsequently by an act of
her legislature in 1783, authorized her delegates in Congress
to cede and transfer to the United States her landed posses-
sions northwest of the Ohio Eiver, and that by the authority
of said act, Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Hardy, Arthur Lee
and James Monroe, the delegates in Congress from the State
Clark's Kaskaskia Campaign. 83
of Virginia, on the 1st day of March, 1784, conveyed said ter-
ritory to the United States by deed of that date.
It is thus apparent by the mere recital of legislative and
historical facts that the only obligation resting upon the
United States in consideration of said cession, was that e 'the
French and Canadian inhabitants and other settlers of the
Kaskaskia , St. Vincents and the neighboring villages who
had professed themselves citizens of Virginia, should have
their possessions and titles confirmed to them." There was
no condition or obligation whatever that the United States
should make such inhabitants any additional grants of land,
but simply to confirm to them such lands and titles as they
already possessed. In discharge of the obligation thus im-
posed upon the United States a commission was appointed by
the United States to investigate and determine what lands
and titles said inhabitants possessed and when ascertained by
said commission which sat and held session at Vincennes from
1804 to 1810, the said lands were confirmed to them by Con-
gress. But it is well known the United States did more than
the condition and obligation imposed by the act of Virginia
required to be done. By resolution of Congress, passed Aug.
29/1788, and the act of Congress of March 3d, 1791, it was
provided that 400 acres of land should be donated to every
head of a family at Post Vincennes and Kaskaskia, at and
prior to 1783, the date of the acquisition of the territory by
the United States from Virginia. And this grant of 400
acres of land applied to every head of a family who had ever
been at Post Vincennes or the Kaskaskias at any time prior to
1783, whether they remained such inhabitants or had left the
territory. To provide for filling this voluntary grant, a tract
of land in Knox County, Indiana, ten miles square, was sur-
veyed and divided into 400 acre lots for this purpose. And
such original tract not being sufficient to supply all such in-
habitants as was subsequently ascertained, two additional do-
84 A History op Vincennes.
nation tracts were surveyed and set apart for such purpose
so that all of such inhabitants as aforesaid, should receive a
400 acre tract of land or their heirs or assigns. This grant
of 400 acres of land was in addition to any obligation resting
upon the United States by virtue of the cession from Virgina,
and was a voluntary offering or gift to such inhabitants and
was given them as a free will offering to reward them for
their promptly espousing the cause of the American colonies
and discarding all allegiance to Great Britain, upon the sim-
ple request of Col. Clarke, without firing a gun or showing the
The town of Kaskaskia was the oldest of the settlements of
the French in the northwest. It was the most populous set-
tlement containing probably 3,500 population, was well forti-
fied and supplied with cannon, small arms and munitions of
war and defended by a strong garrison. But without excep-
tion they were all French people. Governor John Eeynolds
in his pioneer history of Illinois, referring to Kaskaskia at
the date of Clarke's arrival there in July, 1778, says:
"Kaskaskia was to Illnois then what Paris is at this day
to France. Both were in their respective days the great em-
poriums of fashion, gaiety and happiness. Kaskaskia was for
many years the largest town west of the Allegheny mountains.
It was a tolerable place before Pittsburg or Cincinnati had
But Kaskaskia since that period has gone back until it is
not now a station for a postoffice. For many years afterwards
Kaskaskia continued to be the most populous and important
town in Illinois. It was the first capital of the territory and
state and remained such until 1820, when it was removed to
Vandalia. But it still maintained its prominence and all the
printing of the state, even for years after the removal of the
capital to Vandalia in 1820, was done at Kaskaskia. The first
term of the Supreme Court of Illinois was held at Vandalia
Clark's Kaskaskia Campaign. 85
in December, 1820. but the first volume of its reports, by Sid-
ney Breese, was published in November, 1831, at Kaskaskia.
Yet it was such a town and fortress that Col. George Rogers
Clarke, with only 150 men, captured in the short space of a
few hours, before Rochblave, the British commander, had
risen from his bed, without firing a gun or losing a man.
When Col. Clarke's force arrived before Kaskaskia they had
been since leaving the falls of the Ohio, on the go for eleven
clays, seven of which had been spent marching through a
desert country. They were without cannon, horses or any
provisions, except what they carried. They were hungry and
footsore. Would it not seem incredible that such a force
could capture such a place as Kaskaskia is represented to have
been at that time, without some cause, except brute force,
operating in their favor, that made it possible. Such a cause
did operate in his favor and Col. Clarke knew it would oper-
ate. He knew from two men from Kaskaskia, he met on his
overland march to that place, that the race prejudice between
the French and English, would operate in his favor. He knew
the inhabitants of Kaskaskia were all French people and hos-
tile to the British and ready to throw off the yoke at any fa-
It is a well known fact from the journal of Major Bowman,
an officer in Clarke's command, that the supplies and men
authorized to be furnished him by Virginia, were owing to
many causes and difficulties never actually furnished. On ac-
count of this failure the prospects of a successful issue of the
campaign before starting from the falls of the Ohio, were
anything but encouraging. It was thought for a time it
would be abandoned altogether. But Gen. Clarke was a man
of undoubted courage and determination and relying upon the
race prejudice that was known to exist he determined to make
the attempt with the small force he had gathered.
He started from the falls of the Ohio River on his way to
86 A History op Vincennes.
Kaskaskia on June 28th, 1778. That Kaskaskia was the ob-
jective point of his expedition is clear from the commission of
Gov. Henry from which we extract as follows :
"You are to proceed with all convenient speed to raise seven
companies of soldiers to consist of fifty men each, officered in
the usual manner and armed most properly for the enterprise,
and with this force attack the British post at Kaskaskia. It
is conjectured there are many pieces of cannon and military
stores in considerable amount at that place, the taking and
preservation of which, would be a valuable acquisition to the
state. * * * If the inhabitants at the post will give evi-
dence of their attachment to this state, let them be treated as
fellow citizens and their persons and property duly secured.
Assistance and protection against all enemies, whatever shall
be afforded them, and the Commonwealth of Virginia is
pledged to accomplish it."
This objective point of the expedition is also manifest from
the journal of Major Bowman, who does not mention or hint
any other ulterior point being in contemplation. The force
of Col. Clarke proceeded down the Ohio Eiver in boats to a
point a few miles below the mouth of the Tennessee River.
There the boats were abandoned and a march overland to Kas-
kaskia was begun. The route of this march was over a desert
country with no road and no convenience to cheer them on
the way. They only carried muskets and such provisions as
the}'' could carry on their back. After a tedious march of
seven days through this wilderness, they arrived weary a nd
worn out before Kaskaskia, on the 3rd of July, 1778. Kaskas-
kia was situated on the opposite bank of the river and the
journal of Major Bowman says their advance was discovered
from the town. Gen. Clarke crossed the river the next day,
July 4th, 1778, and appeared before the fortified town of
In accounts originating from Gen. Clarke and his com-
Clark's Kaskaskia Campaign. 87
mand, it is stated .that when his small force appeared before
the walls of the town of Kaskaskia, from indications ob-
served, they feared they would meet with resistance, but a
Catholic priest opened the gates of the fort and approached
Gen. Clarke and had an interview with him. This priest w.s
undoubtedly Pierre Gibanlt, the patriot priest of the West.
It was quite natural that seeing an armed force of strangers
approaching the place that the inhabitants should wish to be
advised of the cause and object of their coming. It is also
stated that this priest and Gen. Clarke had an interview. It
is fair to presume that in this interview Gen. Clarke informed
this priest of their object and intentions, and that they would
be protected in their persons, property and religion. This
priest, if the surmise is correct, was already enlisted against
the English cause, returned to the fort and advised the admit-
tance of the strangers, and soon after the gates were opened
and Gen. Clarke entered the fortified town and the bloodless
capture of Kaskaskia was accomplished without firing a gun
or loosing a man, even before the British commander was
aware of the fact.
It is fair to conclude that it all happened as stated and that
the above is a true account of the case. In after years it be-
came necessary to magnify the achievement for the purpose
of self aggrandizement and to stimulate rewards and land
grants. In reading some accounts of this remarkable achieve-
ment, the intelligent reader is led to recall the wonderful and
Don Quixotic performances of Sir John Falstaff, as related by
that master and thorough probe of human nature, and espec-
ially of Anglo-Saxon braggadocio, William Shakespeare.
Hon. William H. English in vol. 1 on page 171 of his work,
quotes Major Bowman, an officer in Clarke's command, who
was writing concerning Kaskaskia at the time of its capture
by Clark, as using this strong and forcible language :
88 A History op Vincennes.
"Kaskaskia was so fortified that it might have resisted a
And Governor Eeynolds in his history of the capture of
Kaskaskia by Gen. Clarke in 1778, says: "Clarke had no
cannon or means of assaulting the fort and therefore was
compelled to use strategem."
This language by learned men concerning the capture of
Kaskaskia sounds strange in the ears of men acquainted with
the facts in the case. How could Gen. Clark use strategem
when his own account states their advance was detected a day
before the surrender. And how could a bloodless issue have
been achieved against such a fortified fort? There is no
question but that Kaskaskia was well fortified at the time and
supplied with cannon and ammunition. One blast from these
heavy guns would have scattered the weak and weary forces
of Gen. Clarke as autumn winds scatter faded leaves from the
After gaining possession of Kaskaskia as above stated, Gen.
Clark sent small detachments from his own small force and
in succession obtained peaceable possession of Cahokia, Prai-
rie du Eocher and. all the French villages on the Mississippi
Eiver in the same bloodless manner. And it is reasonable to
conclude, and we do conclude, that all these bloodless tri-
umphs were the result of some influence other than military
necessity. They all fell into the hands of Gen. Clark as the
ripe apple falls to the ground from the parent stem. It is
fair and just we think to attribute these bloodless results to
the influence of Gibault from the necessary operation of well
known causes. He had been laboring at all these French set-
tlements for more than ten years. He was unquestionably the
ablest man in the entire northwest territory. He labored day
and night, teaching the children and adults, not only on Sun-
day but on week days. He was so successful that in about
six months after his arrival there in September, 1768, he
Clark's Kaskaskia Campaign. 89
brought them all back within the fold of the church, and al-
most the entire population received communion on Easter
Sunday, 1769. The same thing he accomplished at Cahokia
and Prairie du Eocher and all the missions on both sides of
the Mississippi Eiver. He built and blessed the first chapel
on the site of the present city of St. Louis, when Col. Francis
Vigo resided there.
When Gen. Clark had thus obtained possession of Kaskas-
kia and all the French villages on the Mississippi River, he
had fully accomplished the objects embraced in his commis-
sion from Gov. Henry. But he was not to receive his dis-
' charge. His invaluable services and his undoubted courage,
were not to be dispensed with. He was to receive a new com-
mission, not from Gov. Henry, but in all probability from
Pierre Gibault. It was then for the first time it was heard
mentioned that the capture of the fort on the Wabash River
at this place, was to be rmdertaken. It was represented to
Gen. Clark that the fort here was the real key to the posses-
sion of the northwest territory. That the capture of Kaskas-
kia was not so important, as the capture of the fort on the
Wabash would be, which was in the heart of the northwest
while Kaskaskia was only an outpost on the frontier and ad-
joining a foreign, if not a hostile state, ' He therefore urged
upon Gen. Clark to undertake the capture of the fort on the
Wabash here. He represented to him how easy it was of ac-
complishment and how the same conditions on the part of the
inhabitants in the post here would operate in his favor, as
they had operated at Kaskaskia. He promised and agreed to
furnish him additional men and means to render the expedi-
tion successful. Gen. Clark was convinced and agreed to com-
mand the expedition and thus was organized at Kaskaskia the
expedition to capture the fort at Vincennes. The intelligent
reader of the transaction will come to the conclusion that it
all happened as stated above.
90 A History op Vincennes.
OLAKK'S ST. VINCENT CAMPAIGN.
In 1770 there came to Vincennes as the parish priest here
the Eev. Pierre Gibault. He came to the Northwest from
Quebec, as the vicar general of the Archbishop of that place.
He remained here as the parish priest with the exception of
an interregnum in 1778, when he was expelled by Governor
Hamilton, until 1789. He was without question the most
learned and influential man in the Northwest at that early
day. He had almost unbounded influence over the inhabit-
ants here who were all French by birth or descent. In the
winter of 1778 he received information of the pending strug-
gle of the American colonies against Great Britain for inde-
pendence. This information had been studiously concealed
from the inhabitants of the Northwest by the British author-
ities in Canada. The struggle had been actively in progress
for upwards of two years before it was known here. There
were no roads or means of communication with the Atlantic
from this place at that early day. All information came by
way of the lake region of the north. When Eev. Pierre
Gibault heard of this struggle with the natural instincts ani-
mating every cultured Frenchman he at once decided to join
the rebellious colonies and cast his lot and influence in their
favor. In the latter part of the winter of 1778 he announced
at mass to his parishoners that he wished them to meet him
at a stated time as he had important information to commun-
icate to them. That meeting so announced was accordingly
held. It has been frequently stated this meeting was held in
the old church here. But it was not held there. All accounts
we have of this remarkable man and his austere church dis-
Clark's St. Vincent Campaign. 91
cipline indicate he would have considered it a desecration to
hold such a meeting in the church. Besides the church was
not a suitable place for such a meeting. It was a small struc-
ture with no windows or openings except a door. It had no
pews or any floor except the eath. This meeting was held in
the old fort, which was large and a better place, and was
then unoccupied. When the meeting so called was assembled
the Eev. Father Gibault addressed them in French to this
"My Beloved Brethren and Fellow Citizens:
"I have received authentic and reliable information that
the American colonies on the Atlantic Ocean have revolted
and are now at war with England in a struggle for independ-
ence. This war has now been going on for upwards of two years
with varying success. We have just received the first account
of its being waged. The English authorities in Canada have
studiously kept us in ignorance of the fact, fearing we would
follow the example of so many of our French brethren arid
join the colonists and throw off our allegiance to them. This
is a just struggle of the weak against the strong. It is our
duty as Frenchmen and lovers of our native land to render all
the assistance we can to the struggling colonies. Everything
we do in this way will in reality be done in the interest of our
French brethren. Therefore I propose that we throw off all
allegiance to the English nation and declare ourselves citizens
of the revolted colonies. I propose that you manifest this
declaration and intention by taking the oath of allegiance to
the American cause, and if you are agreed I will now admin-
ister the oath of allegiance to you and will assist in hauling
•down the English emblem of its sovereignty over this fort.'"
At the conclusion of this address the entire population of
the place with one accord agreed to take the oath of allegiance
to the American cause and asknowledged themselves citizens
92 A History op Vincennes.
thereof. The oath of allegiance was thereupon administered
to them by Father Gibault, and the English flag was hauled
down over the old fort on the "Onabasche."
When the British authorities in Canada became aware cf
these proceedings Governor Henry Hamilton was sent here
to re-take possession of the old fort. He came and the fort
being practically unguarded, only Lieutenant Helm and one
other person with him being in the fort, he had no difficulty
in gaining possession of it. Father Gibault, in consequence
of his connection with this affair, incurred the displeasure of
the English. They could not brook the idea of letting the
key to the possession of the Northwest pass from their grasp.
Father Gibault was arrested by Gov. Hamilton and held as
a prisoner for some time. Finally it was agreed by Gov.
Hamilton to liberate him if he would leave the place. Father
Gibault agreed to this and left, and returned to Ivaskaskia.
This expulsion of Gibault was a year before Gen. Clark came
in Februar} r , 1779, and was providential and ultimately
proved a great advantage to the American cause in the revo-
lutionary War. It placed this able and influential man where
he could assist in wresting the great Northwest Territory
from the English. It placed him ver}^ fortunately at Kas-
kaskia, when Gen. Clark approached that place in July, 1778.
After he had fully accomplished the task outlined by the
commission of Governor Henry of Virginia, and secured
peaceable possession of all the French villages on the Mis-
sissippi Eiver the project was for the first time broached to
organize another expedition to capture the old fort here.
This scheme was suggested, it is safe to assert, by Pierre
Gibault. No other character of whom any account has reach-
ed us, was to be found in the entire Northwest possessed of
the necessary knowledge, influence and ability to plan and
hope to successfully carry out such an expedition.
To show that the capture of the fort on the "Ondbasclie"
Clark's St. Vincent Campaign. 93
was not within the scope of Clark's original program, it is
sufficient to remark it was not named in his commission from
Governor Henry. It was not named by any one in his com-
mand until after the bloodless capture of Kaskaskia. And in
addition it may be said that the fort here was not known to
Gen. Clark or his command until after his capture of Kas-
kaskia. There was no road or other communications between
this place and even Kentucky at that early date. If it had
been within the scope of Gen. Clarke's objective point he could
have reached this place by a march of only fifty miles from
the Ohio Kiver, and from here he could have proceeded to
Kaskaskai by a shorter, better and well known route, than the
one he took from the Ohio Eiver.
But upon this point there is no room for doubt or question.
The capture of the fort here was not in the original plan of
Clark's campaign. It was suggested and originated at Kas-
kaskia by Father Gibault, the only man at the time having the
ability to plan or carry out such a scheme. He represented to
Gen. Clark the importance of the fort here, the general feel-
ing of the French inhabitants, and the defenseless condition
of the fort at the time. He proposed to furnish him addi-
tional troops from Kaskaskai, and means to carry it forward,
and also guides to lead the force to this place. He did all
this. He furnished Gen. Clark two companies of troops, all
Catholics and all members of his congregation. One of these
companies under the command of McKay, and the other under
the command of Francois Charleville. These two companies
from Kaskaskai came with Gen. Clark and assisted in the
capture of the fort, and many permanently settled here. He
enlisted Francis Vigo, a trader at an Indian village upon the
site of the present city of St. Louis in the enterprise, and in-
duced him to furnish means to carry it on. Vigo was at the
time a zealous and devoted Catholic and a member of Father
94 A History of Vincennes.
Without wishing to. detract in the least from the deserved
honor dne to the men that actively took part in the capture
of the fort here, it is due to truth and justice to give honor to
whom honor is due. There was no man in the country, except
Pierre Gibault, who could accomplish the above enumerated
results. Gen. Clark was an entire stranger in the country,
and could not be expected to have sufficient influence over a
strange people speaking a different language from his own to
induce them to enlist voluntarily in a hazardous enterprise
through his exertions alone. Vigo was an illiterate, but suc-
cessful trader among the untutored Indians. He could not at
that time write his own name, and never could do it, except
mechanically as the parrot learns to say "Pretty Poll." But
all these plans, purposes and details were within the range of
accomplishment of Pierre Gribault, and to him the merit of
success is primarily and principally due.
In August, 1778, it was determined to send a message to
Vincennes to apprise the inhabitants of the intended expedi-
tion. Father Gibault selected as this messenger his confiden-
tial and trusted friend, John Baptiste Laffont. This messen-
ger was well known to Father Gibault and a member of his
congregation. Father Gibault solemnized the marriage of his
daughter Marie Laffont to Eobert McKay, one of the captains
appointed to command one of the companies raised at Kaskas-
kia for the St. Vincent's compaign. Mr. Laffont accordingly
went to Vincennes on this mission and carried with him a
commission signed by Gen. Clark, dated at Kaskaskia, August
15, 1778, appointing Francois Busseron captain of a company
to be raised at Vincennes. This Francois Busseron was a
valued friend of Father Gibault and was one of his principal
advisers and associates while he was at Vincennes, from 1770
to the date of his expulsion. He was a man of great promi-
nence and influence in the place and was appointed one of the
judges of the court by John Todd when he came by authority
Clark's St. Vincent Campaign. 95
of Virginia to organize civil government in the Territory in
1779, and was also appointed one of the judges of the court
by Winthrop Sargeant, secretary of the Territory, when he
came to organize the territory by authority of the United
States in 1790. He was a distinguished pioneer citizen who
had been previously appointed captain of a company raised
when Father Gibault administered the oath of allegiance to
the French inhabitants in the winter of 1778 and was the man
who hauled clown the British flag over the fort and raised in
its stead the red and green serge flag. One of the streets in
Vincennes is named in memory of this man. He died in
.1791 and was buried in the Catholic cemetery here.
When the force was organized at Ivaskaskia to come and
capture the fort here it was Pierre Gibault who insisted it
-should be undertaken at an inclement season of the year when
the whole intervening country between Ivaskaskia and Vin-
cennes was covered with ice and water. He did this because
he knew of the existing condition of the fort here. It was
practically unguarded and in total want of supplies of all
kinds. These were expected from Canada in the early spring-
time. Success, therefore, depended upon speedy action before
"the expected supplies arrived. These matters were all within
ihe knowledge of Pierre Gibault, who was well acquainted
with the French inhabitants here, and communication between
=this place and Kaskaskia was frequent. But these important
facts were not known to Gen. Clark or any of the command
that accompanied him from the falls of the Ohio to Kaskaskia.
And when the force was fully armed and equipped, ready 10
proceed to come and capture the fort here, it was Pierre Gi-
bault who gave them cheer and encouragement. Gen. Clark
in his report of this expedition, says that when the force was
ready to depart from Kaskaskai for the Wabash on February
5, 1779, that Father Gibault appeared before the two Illinois
■companies he had been instrumental in raising and addressed
96 A History op Vincennes.
them and gave them his blessing. Gen. Clark does not give
the substance of the address of Father Gibanlt to the two Illi-
nois companies on that interesting and momentous occasion.
We will supply this omission. The address was delivered in
French, but we give the substance of it in English for the ben-
efit of the reader :
"My Dear Br&thren and Fellow Citizens:
"You are about to start on a glorious mission, the succeed
of which will cover you with everlasting glory. And of the
entire success of it there can be no doubt. The French peopJe
residing in the village on the Wabash are animated by the
same feelings and impulses as you are. I am well acquainted
with them, having resided among them as their pastor from
1770 until I was driven away by the English in the spring of
last year. These French people are no friends of the English,
and are ready at any favorable opportunity to strike them a
deadly blow. They unanimously, at my request, in the wint tr
of 1778, manifested this by renouncing allegiance to the Eng-
lish and taking an oath to support the American cause in the
revolution now in progress against the English. You are now
going forward to furnish them this opportunity, as you rep-
resent the same cause that is now at war with the Engiidh.
Go then with stout hearts and fearless souls knowing in ad-
vance that your efforts will be crowned with complete success
And I specially charge that you do not forget that what you
do in this glorious cause is really done in the interest of your
beloved France, for which you all feel a deep and abiding af-
fection, as it is your fatherland. And that you may be sus-
tained and cheered on your journey during the wintry weather
through snow, water and ice and various hardships and priva-
tions you will have to undergo, I will now give you the bless-
ing of a poor Catholic priest for your safety and protection.
1 now implore our Common Father, without whose knowledge
not a sparrow falls to the ground, and who feeds the young
ravens when they cry, that He may sustain you, preserve you
and crown your mission with success in the name of the
Farther, and of the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Amen.'"'
Clark's St. Vincent Campaign. 97
A representation of this imposing and dramatic scene can
be seen in W. H. English's history of the conquest of the
Northwest, Yol 1, on page 287.
The expedition started from Kaskaskia on February 5,
1779. How was it that the force made its way through the
intervening overflowed and icy ground ' on the way to Vin-
cennes ? Gen. Clark nor any of the men who came with him
from the falls of the Ohio River to Kaskaskia had ever been
in the country before, and knew nothing of the route to he
passed over. This was known, however, to many of the men
in the two French companies furnished the expedition at Kas-
kaskia. Many of them, no doubt, had frequently passed over
the route and were familiar with it. Without the aid of these
men as guides the force of Gen. Clark could never have suc-
cessfully threaded its way to the fort here. It is stated in
the journal of Major Bowman that when Clark arrived at
the "Wabash Elver on his way, with its banks all overflowed,
he gave orders to his men to look out for boats and supplies.
He was then nine miles below Yincennes at an inclement sea-
son of the year, and surrounded on all sides by a miniature sea
of water. Why should such an order have been given if there
had not been a pre-arrangement that boats and supplies would
be furnished him? Why, under all the circumstances, should
any sane man expect boats and supplies at that point? Tlie
only reason that can be assigned for Clark's order is that boats
and supplies had been promised him, and therefore he ex-
pected them. Who was it that had promised the boats and
supplies? Who could have given such a promise with any
reasonable hope of fulfilment ? It was not Gen. Clark or any
of his command that he brought with him from the falls of
the Ohio Eiver. They were all entire strangers in the coun-
try and wholly unknown to the inhabitants of Vincennes who
were expected to furnish the boats and supplies. It was un-
questionably Father Gibault, the only man at that time pos-
98 A History of Vincennes.
sessing the necessary influence to make such a promise with
any hope of its fulfillment.
After the force had secured two boats and crossed the Wa-
bash Elver to the "Mamelle Hill" they were nine miles from
Vincennes. Between them and the town were the overflowed
waters of the Wabash Eiver in places fifteen and even twenty-
five feet deep. The intervening space was filled with coulees,
ravines, marshes, swamps and morasses. No man unacquaint-
ed with the topography of the country could have attempted
to pass safely over that space. He would have been drowned
in making the attempt. Yet the French inhabitants acquaint-
ed with the country could do it safely by wending their way
through the waters on the ridges of high ground and reach
Vincennes on their little French ponies without wetting their
feet. The journal kept by Major Bowman says they met duck
hunters who conducted them from the "Mamelh, Hill" to the
sugar camp, and from thence to "Warriors Island," and then
by a detour to the south to the high grounds on which Vin-
cennes is situated. This was a very tortuous and circuitous
route to take to reach Vincennes from the "Mamelle Hill."
But it was the only one that could be taken with any chance
of reaching Vincennes. Who were the duck hunters spokeu
of by the writer of the journal ? It is not reasonable to sup-
pose that they were really duck hunters from Vincennes in
mid- winter with the whole country covered with ice and water,
when they could capture all the ducks they wanted without
leaving the high grounds upon which the village was situated
No ; they were not duck hunters, but they were guides that had
been provided through the influence of Father G-ibault to con-
duct G-en. Clark and his force to the village. And when they
finally reached the village half famished, as they had not
taken, according to the journal of Major Bowman, any food
for three days, and were wet and tired and foot-sore, what
caused the inhabitants of the village to receive an armed force
Clark's St. Vincent Campaign. 90
of strangers with kindness and hospitality and to furnish
them needed refreshments ? It was unquestionably the influ-
ence of their old pastor, Pierre Gibault.
It is well known that the inhabitants acquainted Gen. Clark
with the condition of things at the fort, its want of supplier
and munitions of war, and that these were daily expected to
arrive from Canada. They urged Gen. Clark to commence
operations the night of his arrival before the supplies and re
inforcements could arrive. Three-fourths of the men who
took part in the attack on the old fort were Catholics. It is
both reasonable and just to claim that all this was accom-
plished through the influence of Pierre Gabault. He sug-
gested and planned the expedition, its execution in mid-winter
before supplies and reinforcements could arrive, and thus
crowned it with success.
After the oath of allegiance to the American cause had been,
administered to the French inhabitants, Father Gibault suc-
ceeded in organizing two companies of French men, one under
the command of Francois Busseron, and the other under the
command of Capt, Nicholas. Capt. Helm was appointed tc
take possession of the old fort, which the English had named
"Sackville." Its name, when Clark captured it in February,
1779, was again changed to "Fort Patrick Henry." Captain
Busseron hauled down the English flag and hoisted in its
stead a two-colored flag made of green and red colored serge.
For the expense occasioned by the flag, Capt. Busseron pre-
sented an account against Capt. Helm which was paid him, of
which the following is a copy: "1778 Paid to St. Marie for
5 ells of red serge for the flag, 45c. Paid to Mr. Defonet for
3 3-4 ells of green serge for flag, 37 1 /2C. Paid to Mrs. Godare
for making the flag, 25c.'' The facts connected with the haul-
ing down the British flag and hoisting the two-colored flag-
are proven by papers connected with the estate of Capt. Bus-
seron, now in possession of Hon. Charles B. Lasselle, of Lo-
100 A History op Vincennes.
gansport, Indiana. Capt. Busseron died in 1791, and Antoin
Marachall administered on his estate. Upon his death, Kv-
cinthe Lasselle administered on his estate and came into pos-
session of the papers of the estate of Capt. Bnsseron, and upon
his death Charles B. Lasselle came in possession of his father's
papers and has them now. After the capture of the Fort in
1779 by George Rogers Clark, he changed the name of the
fort to Fort Patrick Henry, and many accounts and docu-
ments concerning the fort after Clark got possession are all
dated at "Fort Patrick Henry."
For the part taken by Father Gibault in this transaction,
when Hamilton afterwards came with his eighty soldiers and
400 Indian allies and retook the fort he arrested Father Gi-
bault and held him a prisoner for some time, but finally re-
leased him on promise that he would leave the place. For th's
release Gov. Hamilton was censured by the British authori-
ties in Canada on the ground that as Father Gibault was a
British subject at the time, living in the territory of thai;
county, he should have been held and tried for treason.
Col. Clark, in a commission dated by him at "Fort Clark,"
Kaskaskia, August 15, 1778, appointed Francois Busseron
captain of a militia company at Post Vincenne, which com-
mission is also in possession of Hon. Charles B. Lasselle, of
Why was the fort actually captured by Gen. Clark on the
25th of February, 1779 ? It was not on account of the violence
of the attack or any deadly effect produced hj it. The firing
on the fort began at 5 o'clock, February 21, 1779, and was
kept up without intermission until 10 o'clock the next day,
and not the least impression had been made on the walls of
the fortress, and not a man within its protecting walls had
been either killed or wounded. They might have kept up the
fusilade with their flint-lock muskets until all their ammuni-
tion was exhausted with the same fruitless result. If the fort
Clark's St. Vincent Campaign. 101
had been supplied with ammunition one blast from one of the
large cannon within the fortress would have scattered the as-
saulting force like the early spring flowers are scattered and
perish before sheets of desolating wintry storm. It cannot le
denied that if Governor Hamilton had possessed ammunition
he could have driven off the assailants as easy as the tempest
shakes the rain drops from the bending forest. This attack
on the old fort with flint-lock muskets without producing any
damaging result has always reminded the intelligent reader
of the silly attempt of the Chinese to scare off the allied forces
under the command of Lord Elgin when they approached
Pekin in 1860. They assembled innumerable hordes of Chi-
nese armed with gongs, and by the noise they could make
Avere expected to scare off the allied forces. But the allies
were not frightened awa}^. To use the language of Lord
Elgin, in his report, "I gave the order to sack and destroy the
favorite residence of the emperor, and it would then become
a solemn act of retribution. The palaces were cleared of
every valuable and their walls destroyed by fire and sword."
How, then, was the capture of the old fort actually accom-
plished by Gen. Clark on February 25, 1779 ? It was the want
of provisions and ammunition, and the fact that starvation
confronted its inmates. It is well known that Gov. Hamilton
tried to temporize and seek delay in the hope in the mean-
time his expected supplies and re-inforcements would arrive.
But Gen. Clark prudently refused to give any time. Gov.
Hamilton knew he could get no supplies or provisions from
the French inhabitants of the village,' who were all hostile to
his cause. This entire want of provisions and ammunition
induced him to hold the conference with Gen. Clark in the old
church near the fort, when he signed the following articles
of capitulation, February 25, 1779 :
"Agreed to for the following reasons : The remoteness from
succor, the state and quantity of provisions, etc., the unan-
102 A History op Vincennes.
imity of officers and men in its expediency, the honorable
terms allowed, and lastly, the confidence in a generous enemy.
Lieut. -Governor and Superintendent.
And in consequence of this surrender the flag of Great
Britain was lowered and possession of the fort surrendered to
Virginia. In this connection the truth of history requires a
fanciful incident to be spoiled which has been circulated in
this place for many years. It has been said that the American
flag was hoisted over the fort after the surrender. If any flag
was hoisted it was the flag of Virginia, as Col. Clark was in
command of Virginia troops, acting under a commission of
the governor of that State. Various French women have been
named as having made the Star Spangled Banner that was
hoisted. But the Star Spangled Banner had no existence at
that date, which was February, 1779. The Star Spangle 1
Banner is a growth rather than a creation. The flags used
during the Bevolutionary War were the various flags of the
several revolted colonies before and after the Declaration of
Independence. The Stars and Stripes then had no existence,
and after it was adopted underwent many changes before fat-
ing the shape at present established. During the revolution
each of the colonies had its own flag. That of Virginia was of
silk with a heroic figure standing erect and armed, with one
foot upon the neck of a prostrate form with the motto, ''Sii
Semper Tyrannis." If any flag was hoisted at the time over
the old fort when it was surrendered to Col. Clark in Febru-
ary, 1779, it was the flag of Virginia. No person in Vin-
cennes, male or female, at that early period, could have made
a flag of Virginia. It is probable no flag was raised unless
one that Col. Clark brought with him. But it is more rea-
sonable to conclude no flag was raised, the victors being con-
tent to haul down the British flag, the emblem of its sover-
eignty. The date of surrender was before the flag raising
Clark's St. Vincent Campaign. 103
craze had arrived. And why has not the important share
borne by Father Gibault in this important affair been prop-
erly acknowledged and compensated? This neglect and want
of recognition of valuable services rendered by the missionary
fathers in the Northwest is in the main due to their own want
of desiring any snch recognition. A celebrated historian in
alluding to this, says :
"The priests on the missions in the Northwest were con-
tent to labor and suffer and to leave the record of their deeds
Eev. Pierre Gibault was one of these missionaries and acted
upon the principle laid down in the parable as recorded in
Luke, chapter 18, verse 14 : "I tell you this man went down
to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that
exalteth himself shall be abased: and he that humbleth him-
self shall be exalted."
He did make a modest request that a small lot in the village
of Cahokia should be given him. In reference to this request,
Governor St. Clair in his report, dated in 1791, to Mr. Jeffer-
son, secretary of state, says :
"No. 21 is the request of Mr. Gibault for a small lot that
has long been in the occupation of the priests at Cahokia, hav-
ing been assigned them by the French. It is true he was veiy
useful to Gen. Clark upon many occasions, and has suffered
very heavy losses. I believe no injury would be done to any
one by his request being granted."
This French grant was within the stipulations that all the
grants of the French should be respected and confirmed. But
this modest and just request of Father Gibault was never
granted, and the last years of this distinguished and able man
were passed in suffering and poverty. After an active life
spent by him for the benefit of his fellow men and his country
he had nothing to show for it, not even a house he could call
104 A History or Vincennes.
his own. He could truly say "the birds of the air have nests,
and the foxes holes, but I have no place to lay my head."
Judge Law in his address to the Vincennes Historical and
Antiquarian Societ} r , delivered on February 22, 1839, has this
to say of Father Gibault :
"Next to Clark and Vigo, the United States are indebted
to Father Gibault for the accession of the States comprised
within what was the original Northwest Territory more than
to any other man."
This address we note was delivered three years, lacking a
month, after the death of Col. Vigo, and after he had made a
remarkable will and in it confirmed the contract and employ-
ment of the judge to prosecute his claim for the supplies be
had furnished Gen. Clark against the government, and to take
his compensation for his services from the amount allowed oy
Congress. Why, it may be reasonably asked, did Judge Law
thus prefer the sympathetic, sociable but unlettered Sardinian
to the magnetic, eloquent and learned Arcadian? Was it the
hope that it would hasten and stimulate the passage of the
claim before Congress, and thus enable him to get his fees
that he felt called upon to magnify the services and claims of
Vigo above those of Gibault?
"Truth crushed to earth shall rise again,
The eternal years of God are hers ;
But error wounded, writhes with pain,
And dies among her A^orshippers."
These missionary priests who labored on the missions in th.p
Northwest were in the world but not of the world. Thej
labored not for the transitory things of earth, but for the
nobler and better things pertaining to eternity. They passed
quietly through the turbulent scenes of this unfriendly world
and found a final resting place in unknown and unmarked
graves. But in the final day the great "I am" will call them
Clark's St. Vincent Campaign. 105
forth from their solitude clothed in robes of immortality to
receive golden harps and crowns of glory.
"Softly and noiselessly some feet tread,
Lone ways on earth without leaving a mark ;
They move 'mid the living, they pass to the dead
As still as the gleam of a star thro the dark,
Lonely and hiddenly in the world
Tho in the world 'tis their lot to stay
The tremulous wings of their hearts are furled
Until they fly from the world away
And find their rest
On our Father's breast
Where earths unknown shall be known the best,
And the hidden heart shall be brightest, best."
It has been frequently said that Republics are ungrateful.
The truth of this trite saying is forcibly illustrated by th&
treatment of the Federal Government towards three men,
who, above all others, were the main instruments in wresting
from England the territory northwest of the River Ohio, and
thereby paving the way for its ultimate acquisition through
Virginia of that vast and fertile country out of which the live
rich and populous States of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan
and Wisconsin have been carved and added to the sisterhood of
States. The three men alluded to are Pierre Gibault, George
Rogers Clark and Francis Vigo. They all went to their graves
in a very similar condition, and all present a parallel of gov-
ernment neglect in consideration of patriotic and valuable
services rendered the government without a counterpart in
the annals of history.
Rev. Pierre Gibault was a French missionary Catholic
priest that spent his entire life after completing his educa-
tion in laboring incessantly for the good of his fellow men in
the wilderness of the northwest. He was finely educated, of
commanding presence, superior oratorical powers and pos-
sessed magnetic qualities. He exercised unbounded influence
106 A History op Vincennes.
over the inhabitants of the entire country, as he had visited
and ministered at all the mission stations in the country.
The inhabitants were almost exclusively French or of French
descent, and Catholics. From 1770 to 1790 his influence over
the inhabitants was unlimited. He was the ablest man in the
country at that time. He did more to have the Northwest
Territory severed from England than any other man. It may
be claimed with much reason that the expeditions that cul-
minated in the conquest of the northwest was inspired by him
in consequence of information furnished by him to some of
the many distinguished French officers who came over and as-
sisted the colonies in the war for independence. The British
authorities in Canada in an official report made in 1778, make
special reference to him as being the most learned, influential
and dangerous enemy of British interests of any man that had
appeared in the northwest. And all he did was done at great
personal risk, as he was claimed by the English to be a British
subject, and also at heavy pecuniary loss. His great services
were often acknowledged in official reports of various kinds
and never questioned. Compensations for his loss and val-
uable services were promised, but the promises were never ful-
filled. After a life of toil and privation in the wilderness he
contracted bodily infirmities incident to his arduous labors.
But he was permitted by the Government to spend the las;
days of his life in suffering and want without even a hou^e
he could call his own, and his remains, after death, were
buried in a country grave-yard and his grave remains to this
day unmarked and he sleeps his last
Even by such slight memento as the hind
Carves on his own coarse tombstone/'
George Bogers Clark, the hero and patroit and active 1113-
chanical instrument in the acquisition of the territory,,
Clark's St. Vincent Campaign. 107
through whose courage, indomitable will and stubborn deter-
mination to accomplish his purpose regardless of opposition
or danger survived his brilliant achievements in the north-
west thirty-nine years. He died at Locust Grove, near Louis*
ville, Kentucky, February 13, 1818. He was buried in a coun-
try grave-yard February 18, 1818. The last years of the
life of this hero and patroit were also spent in penury and
pain. He depended upon the charity of friends for even tin
necessaries of life. He suffered before his death a paralytic
stroke, and to save his life his left leg was amputated above
the knee. In this distressed and disabled physical condition
he lingered many years before his death. He petitioned Con-
gress for a small appropriation of money to sustain him i.i
his declining years. The appropriation was never made in
his lifetime, and never, so far as I know, but which if ever
granted did him no benefit, and went to collateral relatives
who had not come to his relief in his hour of distress. He
Avas never married and left no issue. His remains, after his
death, remained neglected for over fifty years in the country
grave-yard where he was buried among many others. No
mark was placed over his grave to indicate the place of inter-
ment. Here they remained until, private persons, in 1869,
determined to disinter them and give them proper sepulture,
in Cave Hill cemetery, adjoining Louisville, Ky. Great dilfi-
culty was experienced in finding his remains. Seven or eight
bodies were dug up in the quest, and finally they were found
and identified, by the want of his left leg, which had been
amputated above the knee. And thus over fifty years after
the death of this hero and patroit his remains were transferred
from the lonety country grave-yard and buried on October 2'.),
1869, in Cave Hill cemetery, that beautiful city of the deacL
and a suitable monument erected over his grave.
I will conclude this brief review of the last days and burial
108 A History op Vincennes.
of Gen. Clark by slightly changing and then adopting the
poetic sentiment of Shakespeare, viz :
0, my country ! my country !
Had I served my God with half the zeal
I have served thee, he would not in mine age
Have left me naked, like a shattered
Bark on the stream of time.
Francis Vigo, a Sardinian by birth and a successful Indian
trader, was located in 1778 at the site on the Mississippi River
where the present city of. St. Louis now stands. He was a
zealous Catholic at the time and was a member of the congre-
gation of Father Gibault. He was induced by the request and
influence of his pastor to furnish the necessary means to ac-
complish the conquest of the fort at St. Vincent, where the
present city of Vincennes now stands. He survived the suc-
cessful capture of the fort, for the accomplishment of which
he had contributed so much, for over sixty years. The lact
3'ears of his life were spent in Vincennes. He died March 22,
1S3G, after a long and lingering illness, and for many 3<sars
before his death was in actual want of even the necessaries of
life and was in reality a pensioner on the charity of the public.
He petitioned Congress to allow him in his destitute condition
the money advanced by him to aid the expedition to capture
the fort at this place. But this just claim, although its pay-
ment was made a part of the consideration to be paid by Con-
gress for the cession by A^irginia to the Federal Government,
was never paid by the Government during the life of Col.
Vigo. He died without issue or any known relatives by blood,
and the amount allowed by the Government forty years af ler
his death went to relatives of his childless wife who did nor
come to his relief during his life and in the hour of his dis-
tress. He was buried in the public cemetery of Vincennes by
charity at public expense, so far as any expense attending his
funeral was concerned. The only expense of his funeral ever
Clark's St. Vincent Campaign. 109
paid was twenty dollars for his plain coffin, which was noi
paid nntil forty years after his death. He was awarded a mil-
itary funeral with the honors of war, and the evening of hit
funeral, which the author attended, was spent in firing cannon
over his grave. But this military display did no good for tbe
hero and patroit, as his spirit had taken its flight and his body
had been buried to return to dust from whence it came. He
was buried in the public cemetery, as already stated, and no
mark or monument was erected over his grave to mark his
last resting place for many years after his death. After the
lapse of many years some unknown person caused a plam,
small slab of stone to be laid on the top of his grave, but so
long after his death that the date thereof had been forgotten
and an erroneous date of his death carved on the small stone
lying flat on the grave. And there he yet lies in a neglected
grave except when the Grand Army of the Republic on Me-
morial day scatters flowers over the graves of the heroic dead.
"Sic transit gloria mundi."
HO A History of Vincennes.
For many years after Vincennes was settled there was no
provision made of any kind for the extinguishment of fires.
If a fire broke out in any part of the town it was left
to be fought by its inmates and their neighbors, with such
appliances as could be readily procured for use. This condi-
tion of affairs and want of preparation in case of emergency,
continued to exist long after municipal organization had
taken place in 1807. The old Borough of Vincennes took no
immediate step in the direction of aiding in the extinguish-
ment of fires or providing any appliances for that purpose.
This total neglect of fire protection on the part of the
borough authorities, was in part due to the fact, that no neces-
sity was felt, as the place had never been visited by any de-
structive fire. But with the increase of population this could
not long continue. In 1819, the borough trustees passed an
ordinance to provide six fire hooks and six ladders thirty feet
long, and required every family to provide itself with two two
gallon leather buckets. These buckets were to be kept by the
inhabitants at their homes and brought by them to any fire
that might occur. But many families failed to provide the
buckets, many were lost or destroyed and many failed to bring
their buckets to a fire. In case of a fire where these buckets
were to be used, two lines were formed reaching to some
water supply. Along one the empty buckets were passed to
be filled with water and along the other the buckets when
filled were passed to be used at the fire. This arrangement
was very imperfect. If the fire was not near a water supply,
it was practically useless. In consequence of a destructive fire
which broke out in the store of George Cruikshank & Co., sit-
uated midway on the northeast side of Main street between
Fire Protection. Ill
First and Second streets, which entirely consumed all the
buildings on the square except the storeroom of William
Burtch on the corner of First street and the storeroom of
Thomas Bishop on the corner of Second street, the borough
authorities were aroused to the necessity of providing better
protection for the town. A hand fire engine was purchased
from Philadelphia and a volunteer fire company was organ-
ized to use it. A building was erected on the alley adjoining
the City Hall fronting on Main street. This company existed
for many years and was the only fire company organized for
the extinguishment of fires. Frederick A. Beiley was em-
ployed to take care of this engine, and keep it in order. As
this company could not afford satisfactory fire protection,
another hand engine was purchased, and a house erected for it
about midway on the southwest side of Broadway between
Third and Fourth streets, and another volunteer fire com-
pany was organized for its use. James A. Plummer was em-
ployed to take charge of this engine and keep it in order.
There existed between these two volunteer companies great
rivalry as they each wished to be useful and to be the first
at a fire and throw the first water on any fire. On this account
many skirmishes took place between the members of the two
volunteer companies as to which one should have possession
of the cistern or other water supply and during the struggle
between them, the burning building was entirely lost sight
of. But these two volunteer fire companies, although the
members used their utmost exertions to extinguish all fires
that occurred, did but very little good. The members being
scattered at their homes or places of business in case of a fire
alarm, took some time for a sufficient number to arrive at the
engine house, locate the place of the fire and to be in suffi-
cient force to enable them to move the engine and other ap-
paratus to the fire. The result was that when they arrived at
the fire, it had progressed so far as to be beyond relief and all
112 A History op Vincennes.
the fire companies could do was to endeavor to save adjoining
property. And although as stated, the two fire companies used
their best endeavors to extinguish a fire, it is not recorded that
they ever succeeded in saving any building that took fire, but
it must be said to their credit they always succeeded in saving
the lot upon which the house stood.
In vieAv of the imperfect protection in case of fires provided
by the hand engines and the volunteer fire companies, the city
council on the 17th January, 1870, passed an ordinance for
the employment of a paid fire department. A steam fire en-
gine was purchased and it was thought that there was nothing
in the way of fire protection that was not then provided. It
was in fact claimed that 'ne plus ultra" could be devised.
This steam fire engine was certainly a great advance over all
previous attempts to provide means for the extinguishment of
fires. But in view of the admirable system that has since
been provided and now in existence, this steam engine was as
much behind the times in comparison with the present system
as the different systems that had preceded it.
In 1886 the city council authorized the construction of
water works for the city. Under this ordinance a complete
water supply has been obtained for the use of the citizens and
of the fire department. The water works plant erected has
no superior in any city in the state. The water tower is over
two hundred feet high and affords ample pressure to enable
the fire companies to throw several streams of water at the
same time over the highest buildings in the city, no matter
where they may be located. And in connection with a perfect
system of electric fire alarms, that has been also provided, the
city is as adequately and perfectly provided with fire protec-
tion as possible. Under the present fire system three compan-
ies have been formed and houses erected for the reception of
the apparatus. These houses are situated in different quar-
ters of the city so that one company will be near the location
of any fire that may take place in any part of the city. Fire
Fire Protection. 113
Company No. 1 is located in a brick building on Fourth street,
midway between Main and Vigo streets, of which company
J. J. Anderson is captain. This company is also provided with
a Babcock fire extinguisher and the most improved and per-
fect hook and ladder appliances manufactured. Company
No. 2 is located in a brick building on the corner of Sixth
and Harrison streets and James J. Hedden is the captain.
Company No. 3 is located in a brick building on the corner of
Second street and Kailroad avenue and Henry H. Miller is
captain. The chief engineer of the entire fire department of
the city is George Fendrich, who has been retained in that
position for many years, until he has become perfectly famil-
iar with all the details of his position. And the fire depart-
ment as now organized is ready at a moment's warning to com-
mence operations on any fire that may break out in any quar-
ter of the city and as often happens, the fire department will
be on hand to fight the fire before the immediate neighbors
are aware of its existence and in some cases before the inmates
of the house know it is on fire.
It is not probable that any fire that may occur in any part
of the city will have any show or chance of success when con-
fronted by our efficient and faithful firemen. The alarm of
fire now occasions no confusion or misgiving in the minds of
our citizens, and very few go to it, only asking where it is
located. They all feel that the fire department will pay its
respects to the destroying element and prevent any serious re-
In view of this the citizens of Vincennes now feel perfectly
secure and think their residences and business houses are per-
fectly secure from destruction by fire so far as it is possible
for human agencies to secure them. This security acts as a
stimulant to encourage and promote the building up of the
city in full confidence that what they build will sustain no
loss by fire.
114 A History of Vincennes.
The first mention must be made to St. Francis Xavier
church because it was first in point of time. It was founded
in 1702. It is stated in the Quebec annals that many Indian
converts assisted in its erection. It was built of timbers set
on end and the interstices filled with adobe. It had a dirt
floor, benches and a rude altar. It had no windows or open-
ing except the door in the northwest end facing the fort, The
second log church was built at the request of Father Gribault.
In a letter to the Bishop of Quebec, dated May 1785, he
writes : "A new log church 90 by 42 feet has been built and
the old church has been fitted up for my use as a pastoral res-
idence." This second church remained standing until the
present brick church was roofed over. It was then torn down
about 1830. The present brick church was projected by Rev.
J. B. Champomier in 1825. He succeeded in raising funds
for its erection and on March 4th, 1826, published notice in
the Western Sun that the corner stone would be laid on March
30, 1826. The walls of the church and the roof were com-
pleted by the time Bishop Brute came in 1834. The church
has been finished by different bishops, but was not fully com-
pleted until 1850. There have been five bishops connected
with this church. Bishops Brute, Hailandiere, Bazin, St.
Palais and Chatard. The four first are dead and their re-
mains are deposited in the basement chapel of the cathedral.
Bishop Chatard is the present bishop. His residence and the
name of the diocese has been changed to that of "Indiana-
The following persons have been pastors of this church:
A History of Vincennes.
John Mermet, Antoninus Senat, Mercurin Conic, Sebastian
Louis Meurin, Pierre Du Jaunay, Louis Vivier, Julian Duver-
nay, Pierre G-ibault, Louis Payet, Benedict J. Flaget, Michael
Levadoux, John F. Rivet, Donatieu Oliver, G-. J. Chabrat, Jo-
seph Eosati, John B. Aquironi, Anthony Blanc, Augustus
Jean Jeans, A. Ferrari, M. Dohmen, John B. Champomier,
S. P. Lalumiere, Louis N". Petit, Anthony Parret, L. Picot,
John Corbe, Celestine Hailandiere, August Martin, Michael
E. Shawe, Ernest Andrau, John Contin, Bede O'Connor, John
Grueguen, Hugh Peythieu, James Stremler and Louis Gue-
Of the above pastors seven have reached high positions in
the church. Benedict J. Flaget, Bishop of Bardstown ; An-
thony Blanc, Archbishop of New Orleans; G. J. Chabrat,
Bishop of Louisville ; August Martin, Bishop of Nachitoches ;
Joseph Eosati, Bishop of St. Louis; Celestine Hailandiere
Bishop of Vincennes.
The congregation now comprises five hundred families with
a membership of over fifteen hunderd members.
The Methodist church was founded here April 18, 1828.
Before that time itinerant ministers of that denomination,
occasionally visited the place and held services. The first of
these was Eev. Mr. Winans, who was here in 1808. The next
was John M. Baker in 1810, then Thomas Stillwell in 1811,
James Turner in 1812, Richard Eichardson in 1813, Zacha-
riah Chilton in 1814, John Shrader in 1815', Thomas Davis in
1816, James McCord in 1817, Charles Slocum in 1817, John
McCord in 1818. But all the above came of their own voli-
tion without the appointment of any authority of the church
and made only passing visits of short duration. During the
time of the visits of the above ministers there was no congre-
gation here and no church building. On April 18, 1828,
steps were taken to form a congregation and a lot on the cor-
ner of Third and Buntin streets was purchased and a brick
118 A History op Vincennes.
church erected on the lot. This church was enlarged, and im-
proved from time to time and was used by the congregation
until the present new stone church was ready for use in 1900.
Several years previous to this a fine lot in one of the choicest
locations in the city on the corner of Fourth and Perry streets,
was purchased. Upon this lot the congregation erected a fine
durable stone church which will last for centuries, and it is
now used by the congregation. The corner stone of this stone
church was laid by Bishop Fowler, April 17, 1899, and it was
dedicated by Bishop McCabe, April 1, 1900. I give from rec-
ollection the names of the following pastors of the church:
Elijah Whitten, Aaron Wood, John W. Jackson, William
McK. Hester, W. H. Grim, Mr. Walker, Mr. Clippinger and
Mr. Willis, the present incumbent.
The Presbyterian church was founded here in 1833. Before
that date the Presbyterians had services at the two Indiana
churches in the country about four miles east of the town. In
1806 Samuel B. Eobertson of Kentucky, came here and or-
ganized the church in the country. He was succeeded by
Samuel T. Scott in 1807. He was succeeded by Samuel -E.
Alexander, who continued to preach for many years. Before
1833 the Presbyterians of Vincennes held religious services
either in private houses or the Court House and occasionally
attended the upper or lower Indiana churches in the country.
But on January 5, 1833, which date is the real founding of
the church, the following persons organized a church in town.
John Bruner, Samuel Harris, Lidia Harris, Samuel Smith,.
James Kuykendall, Sarah Hay, Patsy Hill, Elizabeth Decker,
Mrs. Shadduck, John McGiffin, Elizabeth Wyant, Minerva
Koseman, Andrew Graham, Mrs. Graham, Elizabeth Graham,.
Jane Shuler, Mr. Driatt, Francis Bruner, Joseph Maddox,.
Mary Small, Elizabeth Smith, Catharine Kuykendall, J. D.
Hay, E. Dooley, Elizabeth McCall, William E. McCall, John
C. Holland, Elias Beedle, Hannah Wise, Mrs. Lucree and Mrs..
A History or Vincennes.
jSTycewanger. A lot on the corner of Fifth and Busseron
streets was donated by Mr. Bruner and a brick church was
erected on it, This church was remodelled from time to time
and continued to be used by the congregation until 1862, when
a division took place and a portion ceceded and built a brick
church on the corner of Main and Sixth streets. This divis-
ion was subsequently harmonized and the two congregations
united. A fine new church was erected on the old location in
1884, but was not completed according to plans until 1898.
The. church as it stands today is in appearance the finest
church building in Vincennes. The pastors of the Presby-
terian church have been: W. W. Martin, John McNair,
Thomas Alexander, Samuel E. Alexander, John F. Smith,
John W. Blythe, J. F. Jennison, Eli B. Smith, John F.
Hendy, Joseph Vance, E. P. Whalleti, George Knox and Dr.
Hunter, the present pastor.
The Christian church was organized in 1833. The first
members of the church were: Henry D. Wheeler and wife,
Mrs. Harriet Judah, Dr. John E. Mantle and Stephen Bur-
net. The congregation worshipped in private houses and in
the Town Hall until 1 846, when a lot was purchased on Sec-
ond street and a brick church erected. The first trustees of
the church were Henry D. Wheeler, John E. Mantle and Al-
phens Draper. In 187S, the church building was improved
by an addition in front and a tower and subsequently a
baptistry and pastoral residence were erected. In 1901, Clar-
ence B. Kessinger, one of the members, donated to the congre-
gation a lot on the corner of Third and Broadway streets,
upon which it is intended to erect a fine church at an early
day. The funds for this purpose are being rapidly gathered.
The following persons have been pastors of this church : Eli-
jah Goodwin, P. K. Dibble, I. M. Mathews, W. W. Eccles, 0.
A. Bartholomew, T. T. Holton, W. IT. Tiller, Thomas J.
122 A History op Vincennes.
Clark, W. Carter and W. Oestricher. It has a membership of
The parish of St. James of the Episcopal church was organ-
ized by Rt. Eev. Jackson Kemper, October 27, 1839. The fol-
lowing members were elected vestry men: George Davis,
George Cruikshank, John Crnikshank, James W. Greenhow,.
Samuel Langdon, Abner T. Ellis and Joseph Somes. George
Davis and James W. Greenhow were chosen wardens. Joseph
Somes, treasurer and George W. Eathbone, clerk of the vestry.
The use of the Town Hall was obtained and fitted up as a
place of worship. Services were commenced to be held in the
Town Hall on the 5th February, 1840, and were continued to-
be held there until August, 1813. A lot was purchased on the
corner of Fourth and Busseron streets and on this lot a brick
church was erected in 1813, and has been improved from time-
to time by additions and improvements until it is at present
a very imposing church edifice. This church was founded in.
1811 and dedicated in August, 1813, by Rev. B. B. Killikelly r
D. D., who was the first rector. The following other persons
have been pastors of the church: Foster Thayer, Mr. Carter,.
Mr. Roberts, Dr. Austin and De Lou Burke.
The African Methodist Episcopal church was organized
about 1815 by Rev. W. F. Quinn. The first members of the
church were: Samuel Clark, Cornelius Sims, A. McGill,.
James Brunswick, William Johnson, Mary Johnson, Henry
Rider, Anna Rider, T. Paryear and H. H. Stewart. Services
were first held at the residences of the members. But in
1850 a frame church was erected on the corner of Tenth and
Buntin streets. This was succeeded in 1875 by a brick church
on the same lot. The following persons have been pastors of
this church : Daniel Winslow, G. W. Johnson, Robert Johnson,.
James Curtis, Robert Jones, W. R. Revels, Benjamin Hill,
Emanuel Williamson, John Turner, B. L. Brook, Levi W.
Bass, Thomas Strotter, H. C. Nelson, Madison Pattison, G._
A History of Vincennes.
ST. JOHN'S CATHOLIC CHURCH.
W. Black. William Jackson, H. B. Smith, J. H. Alexander,
J. S. Lewis, Jesse Bass, H. H. Wilson, J. K. Ferguson and
The African Baptist church was organized here about 1860.
A frame church was erected for the congregation on Tenth
street and has been occupied by the congregation until the
St. John's Catholic church was organized in 1851. Prior
to that time the German Catholics of Yincennes worshipped
at the cathedral. They were served by Charles Opperman in
181(3 and afterwards by Conrad Sneider jeans. In 1851 Nicho-
las Strauber built the first church of brick on Main street be-
tween Eighth and Ninth streets. He was succeeded by Leon-
ard Brandt, and he by William Engeln, who remained until
1863. Bev. Aegidius Merz took charge in September, 1863,
and remained until his death in 1897. He made many addi-
tions and improvements to the church and also built a pastoral
residence and a large school building all of brick. The
church property of this congregation, considering its fine lo-
cation and surroundings, is unquestionably the finest church
property in the city. The congregation is also the largest in
the city. The present rector is Bev. Meinrad Fleisehmann.
St. John's Lutheran church for a number of years held
services in the Town Hall. A brick church was built on the
corner of Eighth and Scott streets and was used for some
years by the Lutheran and Evangelical churches jointly. But
in 1859 a division of the congregations took place and the
Lutherans remained in possession of the church property pay-
ing the Evangelical branch a consideration agreed upon for
their interest. The present congregation was organized Au-
gust 29, 1859, by Bev. Peter Senel. He was succeeded by J.
D. F. Mayer and he by J. W. Mueller. Carl Kretzman is the
present pastor. The first brick church was torn down in 1876
and the present substantial edifice erected in its stead. This
126 A History of Vincenxes.
congregation lias a large school building and maintains a
flourishing school for boys and girls/ and the church is in a
St. John's Evangelical church was organized on the separa-
tion of St. John's Evangelical Lutheran church in August,
1859, by Eev. C. Hoffmeister. The leading members of the
church at the time of organization were : John Hamm, Fred-
erick, Peter and William Bitterskamp, Jacob Breuhans, Louis
Bonsil and August Kircher. A frame church was erected in
1862 on the corner of Fifth and Scott streets and occupied by
the congregation until the erection of the splendid brick struc-
ture on the corner of Fifth and Shelby streets which is
an architectural ornament to the city. This congregation
has a large and commodious pastoral residence and a fine
school building and maintains schools for both boys and girls.
This congregation is in a flourishing condition. The follow-
ing have been pastors of this church: C. Hoffmeister, F. Dar-
litz, William Jung, 1ST. Burkhart, P. Weber, Albert Schorey
and Henry Mehl.
The Baptist church was organized in 1860. Meetings were
first held in the City Hall and in private residences. The
church was formally organized May 1, 1862, with the follow-
ing membership: Mrs. Mary S. Heberd, Mrs. Buck, Mrs.
Flora, Mrs. Augustus J. Wise, Miss L. Duree, Miss M. Gilles-
pie, Mrs. L. Gillespie, Eev. J. S. Gillespie and Christian Eal-
len. A lot was purchased on the corner of Fifth and Broad-
way streets, and a frame church erected on it which has been
used ever since by the congregation. The following persons
have been pastors of this church: J. S. Gillespie, L. D. Eob-
inson, B. F. Cavins, Dr. Stinson, A. Brandenburg, I. H. But-
ler, T. J. Keith, James E. Wolford and G. W. Law.
St. Eose Chapel in connection with St. Eose Female Acad-
emy has a fine place of worship on the corner of Fifth and
Seminary streets. This chapel is regularly attended every day
I f '
I > '1
llllltv* 11 ^^', ■ " ' !
A History of Vincenxes.
130 A History op Vincennes.
by the clergy attached to St. Francis Xavier church.
The Baptist congregation divided a few years ago and a
portion separated from the main body and formed a new con-
gregation called the Immanuel Holiness Baptist church. Eev.
Thomas J. Keith is pastor of this congregation and regular
services are held in the old Presbyterian church on Main
The Free Methodist church has a frame building on the cor-
ner of Fourth and Sycamore streets and regular services are
held there on Sundays. Enos C. Bobbins is the pastor.
The B'nai Israel congregation of the Hebrews have a con-
gregation and hold regular services on the corner of Seventh
and Broadway streets, on the second Sunday of each month.
The congregation is wealthy and will erect a synagogue in a
short time. M. Bindskopf and Victor Schoenfeld are trustees
and B. Ivuhn. treasurer of the conoiwation.
Yinceim.es has always been supplied with a sufficient num-
ber of banking institutions. The Bank of Yincennes was in-
corporated by the Territorial Legislature. This bank was or-
ganized by Nathaniel Ewing, Charles Smith and others. It
continued to do business until the state government was or-
ganized. By an act of the state legislature it was adopted as
the State Bank of Indiana. This bank failed in 1824.
The Wabash Insurance Company was organized here and
was invested with banking privileges and issued notes to cir-
culate as money. Joseph Somes was secretary of this institu-
A branch of the State Bank of Indiana was located here in
1834 on the organization of the State Bank of Indiana. John
Ross was cashier of this branch from its organization until it
ceased to exist upon the expiration of the charter of the
State Bank of Indiana. This branch and all the branches of
the State Bank of Indiana were honestly and prudently man-
aged and were a source of profit to the stockholders.
The New York Stock Bank was organized here in 1855
under the law passed by the legislature of Indiana, providing
for the formation of Stock Banks. These banks were required
by the law to deposit with the Auditor of State the stocks of
any state in the Union and receive circulating notes to the
face value of the securities less ten per cent. The defect in
this law was that the bonds of some of the states were not of
equal value and some only worth fifty cents on the dollar.
This bank, as its name implies, was supposed to be founded
on the bonds of New York state which were above par. In
132 A History of Vincennes.
fact, it was founded on the stock of the State of Mississippi,
which were worth only about fifty cents on the dollar. The
capital of this bank was $500,000. It was soon forced out of
On the expiration of the charter of the State Bank of In-
diana, the legislature passed a law in 1855, creating the Bank
of the State of Indiana with branches. A branch of this bank
was located here and John Boss was elected cashier and pru-
dently managed this branch until it went out of existence.
This bank secured a large line of business and had the entire
confidence of the community and would have successfully
continued in business, but was taxed out of existence by the
United States laws, passed in the interest and for the benefit
of the iSTational Bank system.
The Vincennes National Bank was organized as the suc-
cessor and j)rincipally with the capital of the Vincennes
branch of the Bank of the State of Indiana. The capital of
this branch when first organized, was $250,000, but was sub-
sequently reduced to $100,000. This branch for a number of
years while it was under the management and control of John
Boss and Wilson J. Williams, did a fine and legitimate busi-
ness. But it passed from their control by reason of their
death and failed in July, 1893. It passed into the hands of
Thomas R. Paxton of Princeton, who was appointed by the
Controller of the Currency Receiver of the defunct bank. It
was found to be a very bad failure. The stockholders were
compelled to pay in addition to the loss of their stock, an
amount equal thereto to pay the debts and liabilities of the
bank. The officers at the time of its failure were Wilson M.
Tyler, president ; and Hiram A. Foulk, cashier.
The first private bank organized here was the Vincennes
Deposit Bank of B. J. McKenney & Co. It was organized in
September. 1867 by Richard J. McKenney, Peter E. LaPlante,
Hiram A. Foulk, William Heberd, Ulysses Heberd and
Henry S. Cauthorn, on a capital of $25,000, which was sub-
sequently increased to $50,000. This was simply a private
partnership for banking purposes and did a very large and
lucrative business until 1879, when it went into voluntary
liquidation. Richard J. McKenney was the business manager
of this partnership from its opening to its close.
The German Banking Company was organized here in 1871
by Henry Knirihm, Louis L. Watson, Joseph L. Bayard,
Marcelle D. Lacroix and others with a capital of $50,000.
This was simply a partnership for banking purposes and did
a large and profitable business. Joseph L. Bayard was cash-
ier and manager of this business from its organization and
during its existence. This banking company went out of busi-
ness and the partners interested organized in its stead, the
First National Bank of Yincennes with its capital. John H.
Eabb was elected president of this bank and Joseph L. Bay-
The banks now doing business in the City of Yincennes are
three. The First National Bank, the Second National Bank
and the German National Bank. The First National Bank
with a capital of $100,000 and a large surplus, was organized
in 1871, as the successor of the German Banking Company,
and succeeded to its business house and business. On the ex-
piration of its first charter the bank was re-organized as it ex-
ists today. The present officers of this bank are Joseph L.
Bayard, president; P. M. O'Donnell, cashier; and Henry
Somes, Jr., assistant cashier.
The Second National Bank was organized in 1893, with a
capital of $100,000, and has been doing a safe and profitable
business ever since its organization. The officers of this bank
are George W. Donaldson, president; William J. Freeman,
cashier; J. T. Boyd, assistant cashier.
The German National Bank was organized in 1888 with a
capital of $100,000 and immediately secured a large line of
134 A History of Vincexnes.
deposits and has from the start done a lucrative and prosper-
ous business. The officers of this bank are William Baker,
president ; Gerard Reiter, vice-president. ; George E. Alsop,
cashier ; Henry J. Boechman, assistant cashier.
All three of the above National Banks are prudently and
honestly managed and have the confidence of the entire com-
munity. In consequence they are all doing a heavy and pros-
I here insert the consolidated condition of the First Na-
tional Bank, the Second National Bank and the German Na-
tional Bank as indicated by their reports under the call of the
comptroller of the currency at the close of business on Feb-
ruary 25, 1902 :
Loans and Discounts $1,574,870 49
Deposits 2,684,183 41
Resources 3,873,632 94
We doubt whether there is another city of the population
of Vincennes that can show as strong banking facilities as-
Vincennes has originated many corporations in the past
The Vincennes Steam Mill Company organized August 6,
1817, for the manufacture of flour, lumber and spirits, was
started on a grand scale on the survey now occupied in part
by Harrison Park. This company erected extensive and sub-
stantial buildings and for many years did a large and pros-
perous business. Nathaniel Ewing, John D. Hay, Willis Fel-
lows and Benjamin Parke, were members of this corporation.
The Wabash Insurance Company possessing also banking
privileges in addition to general insurance. The Knox In-
surance Company organized about 1850, for a time, did a
]arge business and would have continued except for extending
its business to marine risks on the Gulf of Mexico and the At-
lantic Ocean, which so increased its losses as to compel it to
go into liquidation. The American Live Stock Insurance
Company, the first one of the kind ever organized anywhere
for the insurance of live stock. These corporations have all
The corporations yet in existence in the city are the follow-
The Vincennes University, organized in 1806, under an act
of the territorial legislature, is now in a flourishing condition
and doing as good educational work as any similar institution
in the state. It originall} r possessed a large donation of lands
granted by the United States for the purpose of endowment.
It started out with bright prospects, but its advance was re-
tarded by the unjust attempt of the state legislaure to rob it
of its donation of land and divert the same to the use of the
136 A History of Vincennes.
Indiana University at Bloomington. This legislation is con-
sistent with all state ]egislation which has never been favora-
ble, but inimical to Vincennes. But this unlawful misappro-
priation of its lands was partially prevented by the Supreme
court of the United States which declared this action of the
state legislature to be unlawful and void. But the univer-
sity was crippled in its operations for years. But it weathered
this storm of unfriendly legislation and is yet as successfully
performing its work as any university in the state, not ex-
cepting the State University, supported as it is by large ap-
propriations and endowment funds from the state treasury.
The Vincennes Board of Trade, organized for the purpose
of aiding and building up the city in every way, is doing
good service. If such an organization had been in existence
years before, it would have been of great advantage to this
The Home Building and Loan Association, incorporated in
1893 with a capital of $200,000.
The Knox Building Loan Fund and Savings Association,
incorporated in 1883 with a capital of $1,000,000.
The Peoples' Savings Loan and Building Association, in-
corporated in 1889 with a capital of $1,000,000.
The Vincennes and Knox County Building and Loan Fund
Association, incorporated in 1890 with a capital of $1,000,000.
The Wabash Building and Loan Fund Association, incor-
porated in 1898 with a capital of $500,000.
The Prospect Hill Coal Mining Company, operating mines
adjoining the city.
The Prospect Hill Brick Yard Company, operating works
in the immediate vicinity of the city.
The Vincennes Mutual Fire Insurance Company, organized
for the purpose of insuring such property only as is situated
within the city limits.
The Wabash Mutual Benefit Association, The Knox County
Agricultural and Mechanical Association, organized in 1870,
and which has already held thirty-one successful fairs, almost
equalling the state fairs of Indiana.
The Vincennes Gas Light Company, originally organized
in 1859 by Charles P. McGrady, Nathaniel Usher, W. H. H.
Terrell, under a twenty }^ears' franchise. This company and
its property was merged in the Citizens' Gas Light Company
which is yet in existence and doing a. fine business.
The Vincennes Electric Light and Power company, organ-
ized in 1891, and which has a fine plant and is doing a fine
The City Electric Lighting Company, organized in
1899, and which has erected a fine plant and under a
contract with the city, is now lighting it in all its parts, all
night and every night.
The Central Foundry Company, for the manufacture of
soil pipe, is the second largest establishment of the kind in
the United States and has very extensive works and employs
a large force of men.
The Central Union Telephone Company has a complete
plant making connections with all parts of the city, and in
connection with the long distance telephone company with all
parts of the United States.
The Vincennes Citizens' Street Eailway Company which
manufactures its own electric power and operates a railway
extending from the principal business portions of the city,
and to the adjoining suburbs.
The Vincennes Water Supply Company, with a splendid
plant and the highest water tower in the west (except one at
Cleveland) being 210 feet high and of a capacity sufficient to
throw several streams of water at the same time over the high-
est buildings in the city.
The Citizens' Gas Light Company with a fine plant and
doing' a successful business.
138 A History op Vincennes.
The Vincennes Egg Case Company doing a large and in-
The Vincennes Paper Mill Company with the most im-
proved machinery and with a large capacity for the manu-
facture of paper, and running both day and night to supply
the demand for its product.
The Jt>hn Ebner Ice Company having a large plant and
capable of manuf acting 200 tons of ice each day.
The Eagle Brewing Company of Hack & Simon, manufact-
uring the finest beer of any establishment in the state and
furnishing its product to the city and surrounding towns.
No city can expect to attract and retain a dense population
without adequate resources. They must have a sure base upon
which to depend to supply the wants of the citizens. Vin-
cennes in this regard is highly favored by its location and sur-
roundings. Situated in one of the finest agricultural locali-
ties in the West, it has in its favor that paramount interest
which is the corner-stone upon which rests all enterprises.
The county of Knox in Indiana, and Lawrence in Illinois, are
directly tributary to this city, and several other counties in
both States to a great extent. The report of the state geologist
gives the first place to Knox county as possessing soil suitable
for the production of all kinds of fruit, grain and other pro-
ducts that go to make up the general volume of agricultural
resources. This great interest has been in the past what has
sustained and built up Vincennes. The citizens of Vincennes
for many years paid no attention to manufacturing interests,
and consequently until within a few years past there were no
manufacturing establishments in the city. It has been sus-
tained solely by its unrivalled agricultural resources. There
are yet in Knox and Lawrence counties rich and pro-
ductive lands that can be purchased for less money than many
less valuable lands in portions of the far west where there are
no school houses, churches, roads and other accompaniments
of civilization. The reason the lands in this vicinity have
been overlooked by the ceaseless flow of emigration is because
they have not been advertised by railroad and other companies
as other lands in less favored regions have been. Besides ag-
riculture in the vicinity of Vincennes is yet in its infancy.
Although an old, settled region, for many years but little at-
tention was paid to developing and improving the agricultural
A History of Vincennes.
resources of which it is capable. Large tracts of fertile an I
productive lands in Knox county were suffered to remain until
withm a few years past uncleared and unproductive. Other
tracts were covered with swamps and marshes. And other
lands on both the Wabash and White Rivers bottoms were
practically valueless on account of the overflow of these rivers.
But enterprise and industry in the last twenty years has rem-
edied this. The rivers have been levied and the wet lands
drained and rendered fit for cultivation. This good work is
still in progress and the time not far distant when all the
lands surrounding Vincennes will be a veritable garden. The
roads of the country have been greatly improved and others
are now in progress which will make Vincennes accessible at
all seasons from all parts of the surrounding country over fine
and durable roads.
The following tables extracted from the official statistical
report of the State of Indiana for 1898, the latest report ac-
cessible, shows a gratifying result for Knox county, in which
Vincennes is situated, in comparison with eleven other of th<?
largest and most prosperous counties in the State for the pro-
duction of the principal sources of the farmers' wealth :
Knox . . • •
Green . . . .
Sullivan . .
Davies . . .
Pike . . . .
Gibson . . .
Allen . . . .
Elkhart . . .
St. Joseph .
Laporte • .
Allen . . .
Elkhart . .
St. Joseph .
LaPorte . .
Greene . . .
Sullivan . .
Davies . . .
Pike . . . .
Gibson . . .
Allen . . . .
Elkhart . . .
La Porte . .
And the above is only a partial showing of the rich agricul-
tural country tributary to Vincennes, and whose products find
a market here. The rich Allison prairie in Lawrence county,
Illinois, extending from the Wabash River backwards aboui
eight miles and up and down the river ten miles produce s
abundant crops of all kinds of grain which comes to the Vin-
cennes market and equals almost the amount that comes from
Knox county itself. This prairie is noted for the fertility of
its soil. For many years this rich prairie was mostly unfit for
cultivation, being twice in the year overflowed by the united
142" A History of Vincennes.
waters of the Wabash and Embarras Rivers. Through the
centre of it extended a vast swamp called "Purgatory Swamp''
which was difficult and dangerous to pass over at any season
of the year. But this has all been remedied by the building of
levees to confine the waters of these rivers, and by drainage
and this prairie is today as rich and productive as any lands
in the west.
The immense quantities of wheat, corn, oats, hay and all
agricultural products that are thrown on the Vincennes mar-
ket at proper seasons put the transportation companies to ex-
traordinary exertions to send it to eastern and foreign mar-
kets. It is stated by agents in this city buying wheat for east-
ern parties, and by the city millers and owners of different"
elevators in the city, that the wheat crop of Knox county alone
the present year will reach two million bushels, and some give
a still higher figure. To this Lawrence county, in Illinois,
will add at least one million bushels more.
As already stated, the country around Vincennes on both
sides of the Wabash River is adapted to the production of ail
kinds of produce. Within the last decade the production of
watermelons and nutmegs has reached such vast proportion
that it is difficult in season when ready for market to procure
cars for their transportation. The points in Knox county
suitable and devoted to the cultivation of melons are Decker,
Purcell, Vincennes, Emison and Oaktown, and Sandridge in
Lawrence county, Illinois. From these various places im-
mense shipments are made and the product is highly prized
and takes rank in the markets of the north and east with the
produce of any other section. The returns to the producer
amount to more in proportion to the time, labor and acreage
cultivated than the production of wheat, corn or other grain
crops. And this industry has only commenced within a few
years past and is as it were in its infancy.
The county of Knox in Indiana and the county of Law-
rence in Illinois have all kinds of soil. The high lands are
rich and productive and adapted to any kind of farm use.
The immense bottom lands on the Wabash and White Eivers
are especially adapted to the production of corn and hay, and
average crops can be raised on these lands without the custom-
ary rains in seasons of most severe drought. There is no kind
of produce that is required for the use of man or beast bat
what can be profitably raised in abundance in the countr}''
around Vincennes. It is, therefore, no idle boast to claim thar
Vincennes is situated in the midst of the garden spot of thi
144 A History op Vincennes.
Vincennes has always been favorably located for commerce.
The Wabash Kiver has been a natural highway ready for use.
When there were no roads or other means of inter-communi-
cation in the Northwest, the Wabash River was the great
artery of commerce for all the inhabitants along its course.
When the red men of the forest were here in their glory, the
lords of all they surveyed, the Wabash River was his delight.
His bark canoe was all that disturbed its crystal waters. And
when the white men came and settled along its banks and
built up a profitable trade with the Indians, the Wabash
River afforded the only means of communication with the out-
side world. The "pirogues" of the "Courier der oois," as the
advance guard of commercial men were called, navigated its
waters, bringing goods and merchandize from Canada for the
inhabitants and carrying back to Canada the pelfries and
goods purchased from the Indians. When the country in-
creased in wealth and population and better means of com-
munication were demanded to answer the increased demands
of commerce, the steamboat came to supply the demand. And
the Wabash River was again the great artery of commerce.
From the introduction of steamboats until the advent of
railroads the Wabash River was in its glory. Steamboats from
New Orleans, St. Louis, Louisville, Cincinnati and Pittsburg
were daily visitors to the Vincennes port during the boating
season, lasting about five months in the year, and after the
building of the lock and dam at the grand rapids much
larger, it was then no uncommon sight to see three and four
steamboats from the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers at the Vin-
cennes wharf at the same time, and flatboats called "broad-
horns" to carry the produce of the country to the southern
markets could be seen at all times passing the town, wending
their sluggish way with the flowing current to their southern
destination. In 1836 as many as 800 of these boats passed by
Vincennes by actual count. To show the immense business
transacted on the Wabash Eiver by steamboats, we will insert
a partial list of the boats that regularly traded with Vincen-
nes from the various ports on the Mississippi and Ohio Bivers
from 1840 to 1845: Argus, Alpha, Aid, Adelaide, Arabian,
Banner, Citizen, Caledonia, Conveyance, Companion, Ceres,
Concord, Cuba, Coquette, Camden, Corsair, Cecelia, Cumber-
land Valley, Casket, Comanche, Canton, Daniel Boone,
Dayton, Envoy, Emigrant, Exchange, Elk, Experiment, Fairy
Queen, Fox, Fame, Florida, Gazelle, Gen. Warner, Gen.
Marion, Gleaner, Gen. Hanna, Helen Mar, Herald, Hero,
Hunter, Home, Herschel, Harriet, Hudson, Hilander, Indian,
Juniata, Java, Julia, Gratiot, Jim Brown, Kentucky, Lady
Boon, Lady Byron, Lady Madison, L'Orient, Lilly Lancaster,
Little Ben Franklin, Logansport, Minor, Monroe, Motto, Mt.
Vernon, Minstrel, Martha, Marquette, Minerva, Maryland,
Nile, Nimrod, New Haven, Nick of the Woods, Nathan Hale,
Niagara, Newark, Osage, Orion, Otsego, Ohio, Othello, Para-
gon, Penn, Portsmouth, Putnam, Pittsburg, Pekin, Philadel-
phia, Pearl, Planet, Eapids, Bover, Kochester, Boanoke, Be-
serve, Sjdph, Science, Shoal Water, Spy, Signal, Shylock,
Sciota Belle, Spartan, Salem, Sabine, Tecumseh, Tuscumbia,
Tide, Texas, Thames, Tippecanoe, Tennessee, Tray, U. S.
Mail, Victor, Vigilant, Visitor, Virginia, Waterloo, Wyoming,
William Penn, Wm. Halbert, Wacauster.
In 1843 a company was formed to provide slack water nav-
igation at the grand rapids of the Wabash Eiver. This com-
pany built a lock and dam that overcame that obstacle to the
146 A HlSTOEY OF VlNCENNES.
river navigation. But the lock and dam was constructed of
wood and in the coarse of time rotted and became an obstacle
to navigation instead of an aid. The stockholders fortunately
sold their shares to the United States and the Federal author-
ities constructed durable and expensive works of stone in their
place at a cost of near a million dollars. But this expendi-
ture of money was useless as the splendid works are not used
for the purposes originally intended and never will be of any
use except for the valuable water power they can furnish.
The Wabash River as an artery of commerce to transport
the produce of the Wabash valley to market has lost its pres-
tige. The advent of railroads, that wonderful creative power
that has built up cities in localities where nature never de-
signed they should be located, has robbed the Wabash River
of its glory as a waterway of commerce for general purposes.
But it is yet and ever will be an aid and feeder for the Vin-
cennes market. Several steamboats navigate its waters both
above and below Vincennes at all stages of water and gather
up and bring to the Vincennes market the abundant crops of
the farms along its bank where they are re-shipped to the
markets of the world by rail. This now makes, and in future
will increase the volume, Vincennes one of the largest and
best points for the purchase and shipment of produce in the
West. The profitable and remunerative business of Vincen-
nes, now very heavy, is constantly on the increase, and from
the nature of things, will continue to increase with acceler-
ated force with the improvement and development of the
country. There is no point in the West that offers better ad-
vantages in all departments of active life than Vincennes.
While the Wabash River has ceased to be the artery of trade
and commerce as it was in the past, Vincennes is now supplied
with railroad facilities that more than compensate this loss.
Railroads are the great arteries of commerce which have been
contrived by the ingenuity of man and which have relegated
to the rear in many cases rivers, canals, and macadamized
roads. Vincennes is now connected by the railroad to Terre
Haute and thence by direct connection with Chicago, the
greatest railroad center in the world, with the entire northern
country. The railroad to Indianapolis, the capital of the
state, and the second railroad center in the West, gives it:
connection with all points in the East. The railroad to Cin-
cinnati and its Louisville branch, opens up the entire East and
Southeast. The railroad to Evansville and its southern con-
nections, opens up the South. The railroad to Cairo at the
junction of the Ohio and Mississippi Eivers, opens up the en-
tire Southwest. And the railroad to St. Louis opens up the-
entire West. These various railroads and their close connec-
tions open up a direct communication with all points of the
compass and make Vincennes a railroad center of no small,
148 A History of Vincennes.
Vincennes has been noted for the number of its fraternal
societies. This is evidence of the mutual regard and friend-
ship of its citizens for each other.
Among these fraternities the first place is due to the Ma-
sonic Order. The first lodge of Masons was organized heie
March 31, 1809, under the Grand Lodge of Kentucky, and
was No. 8 under that jurisdiction. When the Grand Lodge
of Indiana was formed it surrendered that charter, and on the
13th of Januar}^, 1818, received one from the Grand Lodge
of Indiana being Xo. 1, which primitive rank it has ever since
maintained. The lodge meets the first Monday in each
The Vincennes Eoyal Arch Chapter Xo. 7 meets the second
Monday in each month.
The Vincennes Council Xo. 9 meets the third Monday in
The Vincennes Commandery Xo. 20, Knights Templar,
meets the fourth Monday in each month.
The above are all Masonic fraternities and meet at the Ma-
sonic Temple on the corner of Main and Third streets.
Wabash Lodge Xo. 20 of the Independent Order of Odd
Fellows meets at Odd Fellow Hall on the corner of Second
and Broadway streets every Tuesday evening. The Pride of
the Wabash Xo. 458, Daughters of Rebecca, meets every Mon-
Dioscuri Lodge Xo. 47, Knights of Pythias, meets every
Vincennes Division Xo. 42, Uniform Rank of the Knights
of Pythias, meets every Friday evening.
Jefferson C. Davis Post No. 16 of the Grand x4.rmy of the
Republic meets the first and fourth Fridays in each month.
Piankeshaw Lodge No. 108 of the Improved Order of Red
Men meets every Wednesday on the corner of Second and
The Home Forum, No. 590, of the Home Forum Benefit
Order, meets every Tuesday on the corner of Seventh and
St. Francis Xavier Branch No. 256 of the Catholic Knights
of America meets on the second and fourth Sundays in each
month at St. Francis Xavier Hall.
St. John's Branch No. 533 of the Catholic Knights of
America meets every second and fourth Thursdays in each
month at St. John's Hall.
St. Paul Commandery of the Uniform Rank of the Catholic
Knights of America meets the second and fourth Thursdays of
each month at St. John's Hall.
Vincennes Lodge No. 29 of the Ancient Order of United
Workmen meets every Thursday at the corner of Main and
Vincennes Lodge No. 291, of the Benevolent and Protective
Order of Elks meets every Thursday in their hall on the corner
of Fourth and Main streets.
The Vincennes Council No. 674 of the National Union
meets the second and fourth Mondays of each month on cor-
ner of Main and Fifth streets.
Plato Council No. 492 of the Royal Arcanum meets every
Thursday at 310% Main street.
Molluch Court No. 45 of the Tribe of Ben Hur meets the
second and fourth Fridays of each month at Odd Fellows
Tecumseh Camp No. 3945 of the Modern Woodmen of
America meets first and third Thursdays of each month at
Odd Fellows Hall.
150 A History of Vinceknes.
Elmwood Camp No. 31 of the Woodmen of the World meet*
last Saturday of each month at the corner of Main and Fifth
The Fortnightly Literary Club meets the second and fourth
Wednesdays of each month at the City Hall at 2:30 p. m.
The Independent Order of B'nai B'rith Etz Chain Lodge
No. 205 meets first and third Sundays in each month at cor-
ner of Seventh and Broadway streets.
Bethlehem Senate No. 150 of the Knights of the Ancient
Essenic Order meets first and third Tuesdays of each month at
310i/ 2 Main street.
Vincennes Lodge No. 936 of the Knights of Honor meets
first and third Wednesdays of each month at 3101/2 Main
Eeview Lodge No. 362 of the Knights and Ladies of Honor
meets on the first and third Mondays of each month at 310 ^o
The Columbian Reading Circle meets on the second and
fourth Wednesdays of each month at the residences of the
St. John's Benevolent Society meets every Sunday at St
John's School Hall.
Aaron Mitchener Lodge No. 33 of the United Brothers of
Friendship (colored) meets first and third Thursdays of each
month at 102i/o East Main street.
Lillies of the Valley Temple No. 36, Auxilliary to the
United Brothers of Friendship, meets second and fourth
Thursdays of each month at 102% East Main street.
The Harmonic Verein meets on the corner of Third and
The Palace Club meets at 526 North Second street.
The Pastime Club meets on North Second street.
The Tecumseh Boat Club meets at their boat house on the
river, foot of Main street.
The Teutonia Club meets at St. John's Hall.
The order of "Americano" was recently initiated in this
A wandering herd of Noble and Exalted Buffaloes while
passing through the city last spring were captured, domiciled
and incorporated with the other fraternal orders of the city.
Although it comes late it has made rapid strides and it is
stated by those who claim to be advised that its membership
equals any other fraternal order in the city. We are not ad-
vised of the purposes of this order, but from representation s
of its members we wish it well. It is to be hoped it will exiet
longer and do more good than either of its illustrious prede-
cessors, the " Thousand and One" or the "Eclampus Vitus."
The first and present grand exalted ranchman is Orestes C.
152 A History of A t incennes.
Vincennes has been favored since 1834 with educational
faciliites. Even before that time when Benedict Joseph
Flaget came in December, 1792, as pastor of the church here,
he directed his first attention to establishing schools. Out of
his own scanty means he commenced free schools for the edu-
cation of the youth. But he was too soon recalled to make any
permanent headway. When Bishop Brute came here in 1834
he called to his aid and assistance the Sisters of Charity
from Bardstown, Kentucky, and opened a free school for the
education of young ladies. He also opened another free
school for men and boys. These schools were maintained by
funds supplied by the bishop himself. He is therefore enti-
tled to be called the father of the free school system of In-
diana. He also established St. Gabriel's College here in 1838,
for higher education which was not free, and which during its
existence had a large attendance from all parts of the West
and the South.
Yet notwithstanding these evidences given by the Catholic
church of its patronage of learning, it has been claimed and
believed by the ignorant, that the Catholic church is un-
friendly to learning. This in the face of the fact that all the
great universities in Europe were established by the Papacy.
Some of these universities have passed from the control o f
Catholic influence since the period of the reformation, but
honor has compelled some of them to give honor to whom
honor is due.
On this subject, Lord MeCauley, on being inaugurated rec-
tor of the University of Glasgow, uses this language :
"At a conjuncture of unrivalled interest in the history of
letters, a man never to be mentioned without reverence by
every lover of letters, held the highest place in Europe. Our
attachment to the Protestant religion must not prevent us
from paying the tribute which on this occasion and in this
place justice and gratitude demand to the founder of the Uni-
versity of Glasgow, the greatest of the revivors of learning,
Pope Nicholas the Fifth."
And the faculty of this university during the present year
on the celebration of its 500th anniversary, sent compliment-
ary resolutions to Pope Leo XIII. acknowledging the debt
of gratitude the university owed to the papacy, to which the
Pope appropriately replied. But general publicity has not
been given to it. This charge against the Catholic church is
of a kin to that similar charge that the church does not en-
courage the reading of the scriptures. The fact is that all the
154 A HlSTOKY OF VlXCENNES.
prophesies of the Old Testament and all the epist'es and gos-
pels of the New are read and explained during the course of
each ecclesiastical year. But these false charges were to be
expected. and were all foretold by the Savior as recorded in
Mathew, chapter v. verse 11, or more positively in John, chap-
ter 16, verse 2. These charges are signs of premonition.
In addition to these schools, at a later date, private schools
were started by Samuel E. Crosby, Mr. Ennis and Mr. Wil-
kerson. These latter schools were not free but tuition was
charged for attendance.
The school facilities of Vincennes at the present time are
equal to those of any place in the West, and far superior to
The Vincennes University is what its name implies, and
affords opportunity for a higher education equal to any uni-
versity in the West. It has an active a ? d energetic board of.
trustees who are fully alive- to the interests of the university.
It is numerously attended by students from the city and
county and embraces in its curriculum many from other states.
No institution of learning offers better facilities for a com-
plete and finished education than the Vincennes University.
The public schools of the city are of a high order. The
High School partakes in a great measure of university feat-
ures. All branches of learning are there taught. In connec-
tion with the High School and subordinate thereto, there are
1st a central school in the heart of the city, 2d the North Vin-
cennes School, 3d the South West School in the lower part of
the city, 4th the East Public School in the east part of the
city, 5th the Southeast Public School for colored children,
and 6th the school in Oklahoma, a suberb of the city. All
these schools through the watchful care and vigilance of the
city trustees are supplied with competent teachers and are
well attended. These public schools are under the manage-
ment of the following able and efficient board of trustees:
Eugene Hack, president; Mason J. Niblack, secretary; and T.
H. Willis, treasurer.
In addition to these public schools the following other paro-
chial schools are maintained and are all numerously attended :
St. Francis Xavier, parochial school for boys and St. Eose
Academy for girls, under the direction of the Sisters of Provi-
dence. These schools are practically free as no tuition is
charged and only those who feel themselves able are expected
or required to pay for the tuition of their children.
The St. John's German Catholic Schools for boys and girls
are also under the care of the Sisters of Providence and are
The St. John's Lutheran School for bovs and girls under
156 A History op Vincennes.
the direction of St. John's Lutheran church, and supported
by the congregation of that church.
The Evangelical School for boys and girls under the con-
trol of the Evangelical church and sustained by that congre-
All these parochial schools are liberally patronized by their
respective congregations. In the aggregate they have almost
as large an attendance as at the public schools.
The Vincennes Shorthand Institute for teaching shorthand
and which is well patronized and has sent out many pupils
who have found ready and remunerative employment, both in
the city and in other states, in all branches of business.
It will be observed that Vincennes is well supplied with
school facilities, affording all persons a wide range to select
from. It is therefore evident that Vincennes affords as good
if not superior advantages over any point in the West for the
education of children.
Manufacturing industries were not encouraged for many
years in Vincennes. Within the last twenty years the atten-
tion of her citizens has been called to their importance and
strenuous exertions have been put forth to secure them. This
change is due in a great measure to the Board of Trade and
the encouragement it has shown for all manufacturing indus-
tries and to secure their location in this city.
Many years ago David S. Bonner, a very wealthy man,
began the manufacture of cotton yarn. He built a large mill
and employed many men and women. But his venture was
not successful and involved him in financial ruin.
Some time after 1848 Christian Kratz and William Heil-
man came here for the purpose of locating and establishing
an iron foundry. They wished a location on the river front
but none of the property owners on the river front would sell
to them. They remained here some time and failing to secure
a suitable location, they went to Evansville and there located
and established an iron foundry which was very successful.
At a later date Messrs. Miller & Cannon came here for the
purpose of establishing an iron foundry. They selected an
old brick stable on the west corner of Second and Buntin
streets and fitted it up and had their furnace ready toi begin
work. They had expended all their means in having patterns
made and other necessary articles connected with their busi-
ness and were unable to pay their rent. Suit was brought and
on the judgment recovered their entire plant was sold and
this infant industry destroyed. The old brick building was
never used for any purpose and the fine patterns were only
used for whittling purposes.
In view of these discouraging facts an enterprising citizen
158 A History of Vincennes.
remarked that Vincennes would never advance until there
were twenty or twenty-five funerals among the wealthy classes
in the city. Well, that time has come. The times have
changed and an aggressive spirit has taken hold of the citi-
zens here. They are now striving with united action for the
location of all kinds of manufacturing industries. These
efforts have already been satisfactory and the movement is
gaining accelerated force with the passing months. Among
the principal establishments already secured we notice the
The Vincennes Bridge Company for the manufacture and
building of iron bridges, arches and structural work which is
successfully competing Avith older establishments in other
The Vincennes Glass Factory now in course of construction
and nearing completion, for the manufacture of glass. This
will be one of the largest factories of the kind in the West.
The Inter-State Distilling Company is one of the largest
distilleries in the country and is running at its utmost capac-
ity day and night.
The Central Foundry Company for the manufacture of
iron sewer pipe. This is the second largest plant of the kind
in the United States.
The Eagle Brewery of Hack & Simon, whose product is
equal to any in the state and is being supplied not only to
the city, but to all the surrounding cities and towns.
The John Ebner Ice Company for the manufacture of ice
and having a capacity of 200 tons a day.
The Steam Saw Mill of the Messrs. Glover which employs
a large force and is doing a large and profitable business.
The Vincennes Water Supply Company with a plant equal
to any in the West and having a water tower 210 feet high
and of sufficient capacity to supply the wants of a city of
The Vinceimes Egg Case Company for the manufacture of
egg cases and is run day and night to supply the increasing
demand for its product.
The Vincennes Paper Company for the manufacture of
paper with a splendid plant of the latest and most improved
machinery and running day and night to enable it to fill its
The Vincennes Electric Light and Power Company is in
The Wabash Valley Foundry for the manufacture of steam
boilers and all kinds of mill machinery is doing a fine busi-
The Broadway Mills now being enlarged and furnished
with new and improved machinery and when completed will
have a capacity of 200 barrels of flour a day.
The Vincennes Elevator Company for the purchase and
storage of all kinds of grain.
The Atlas Elevator for the purchase and storage of wheat
and corn, with a storage capacity of a quarter million bushels
The Atlas Mills for the manufacture of flour and running
day and night and turning out 200 barrels of flour per day.
The Baltic Mills for the manufacture of corn meal, and
running at its utmost capacity day and night to enable it to
supply its customers.
The Citizens' Gas Light Company with a fine plant and
doing a profitable and successful business.
The City Electric Light Company erected in 1899 and with
the latest and improved machinery, is now lighting the entire
city under a contract.
The Vincennes Citizens' Street Bailroad with a power house
of its own and running its cars through the business portion
of the city and to many points in the vicinity.
The Vincennes Galvanized Iron Works for the manufacture
160 A History of Vincennes.
of slate, tin and iron roofing and galvanized iron cornice and
doing an extensive business and filling large contracts at
home and in many other states in the North and South.
The Vincennes Novelty Manufacturing Company for the
manufacture of all kinds of jewelry and brie a brae and being
the only establishment of the kind in this country, and is
being run all the time to enable it to supply the increasing de-
mand for its products.
The Vigo Mills for the manufacture of flour and corn meal.
The Union Elevator Company for the purchase and stor-
age of all kinds of grain.
The machine and repair shops of Convery & Recker for the
repair and manufactureing of all kinds of mill and agricult-
The Wagon Works of J. F. Miller & Sons for the manu-
facture of wagons and buggies and doing a large business,
filling orders not only at home but in many foreign states.
The Wagon and Buggy Works of Salter & Snyder, doing a
large and profitable business.
The Hartwell Bros. Company for the manufacture of
hickory handles and carriage stock generally and running
constantly to keep up with the demand for its product.
The Hartman Manufacturing Company for the manufact-
ure of all kinds of agricultural machinery.
The Marion Hard Wood Manufacturing Company.
The Enterprise Stove Company for the manufacture of
stoves and iron work generally in connection therewith.
The Dr. Knapp Sanitarium for the treatment of all dis-
eases of the eye, ear and nose.
The Grand Hotel, one of the finest hostelries in the West,
and lately enlarged and improved.
The Union Depot Hotel has always commanded a large
share of the patronage of the traveling public and still main-
tains its rank and business.
Material Progress. 161
The progress of Vineennes has been very slow, but sure
and steady. It has not been of a mushroom character, stim-
ulated by fictitious booms and destined to retrograde when
the cause hastening the advance has spent its force. There
has been no retrograde movement in its history. The United
States census returns show a healthy advance. Vineennes
occupied a prominent place in the Northwest when the only
other places were Detroit and Kaskaskia. Many other cities
have since sprung up and attained prominence which had no
existence when Vineennes was an important point. In this
connection I will notice an incident in connection with Chi-
cago, now the second city, in the Union in wealth and popu-
lation. Many years ago the citizens of the then village of
Chicago, sent a deputation of its citizens to confer with the
citizens of the city of Vineennes and lay before them the rich
country around their village and that the only thing they
lacked was an outlet to the markets of the world for the pro-
ducts of their land. They came and suggested it would be
a benefit to the city to aid in building a gravel road from this
city to their village. A public meeting was called and held
at Clark's Hotel to consider the proposition. This meeting
was addressed by John Law, Samuel Judah, John Ewing and
others of the leading citizens of Vineennes at that time. They
all took strong ground in favor of the project and urged
immediate action, as Vineennes to advance must reach out for
trade. The meeting passed resolutions in its favor and so
far as resolutions went, determined that the road should be
built without delay. But nothing was ever done farther than
adopting resolutions. This was in 1828.
162 A History of Vincennes.
There are many causes that can. be assigned for the slow
advance of Vincennes. Some of these are external and have
operated without any fault of her citizens. But many can
be laid directly at the door of her own people, who by their in-
difference and non-action, permitted golden opportunities to
pass without taking advantage of them. It is an old saying
that lightning seldom strikes twice in the same place.
The capital of the Territory was foolishly removed from
Vincennes to Cory don in 1814, on account of an imaginary
fear of an Indian uprising that never had any real foundation.
This movement was not only unopposed but in fact sanc-
tioned by her citizens on the ground that the records of the
Territorial Government might be destroyed. These records
of any value at the time might have been put in a small box
and hidden in a hollow tree as the charter of Connecticut was
hidden in the celebrated Charter Oak. But the removal took
place to the great detriment of Vincennes.
Vincennes, although the first seat of civilization and relig-
ion in the West, has never been favored by legislation. No
act of Congress was ever passed giving it material aid. The
same neglect has also been observed by the State Legislation.
When the Internal Improvement system was determined on
this discrimination against Vincennes was clearly manifested.
None of the various improvements entered upon and carried
on by state aid, ever benefited this place in the least. Take
the Vincennes and New Albany macadamized road as one
instance. That road was to be built by funds raised by taxa-
tion. Vincennes was the most populous and wealthy place
along its route and furnished in taxation more than any three
counties on the line. But not a dollar of the money thus fur-
nished, was expended at this end of the road, but all was
spent on the eastern end and a fine road from New Albany
was built to Paoli and no farther.
Take again, the Wabash and Erie Canal. When the exten-
Material Progress. 163
sion of that improvement to the Ohio River was determined
on from Lafayette south, an immense sum of money would
necessarily be spent along its course and this expenditure
would be a great advantage in building up the localities where
it would be expended. For some cause unknown, Vincenne:,
was left off the line of this canal, and it was diverted eastward
from Terre Haute and thus left Yineennes off its course This
diversion made the length of the canal longer and added
greatly to the cost of construction. Water to supply it had to
be supplied by artificial reservoirs and large tracts of rich and
valuable land overflowed for the purpose which could have
been supplied by the Wabash River at less cost and without
damage. The immense amount of money required to make
the extension to Evansville was all expended, but Vincennes
received no benefit from this immense expenditure which all
went to build up rival towns along its route. This immense
output of money was a great benefit and rich harvest for the
towns and counties through which it passed during the time
it was being spent, but that was all the benefit they ever re-
ceived as the canal was a practical failure and with the advent
of railroads, was abandoned. These causes operated against
Vincennes but were matters over which her people had no
But there were other causes operating against Vincennes
for which they were solely responsible. It is situated in one
of the richest agricultural districts in the West. These rich
lands tributary to Vincennes on both sides of the Wabash
River, in Illinois and Indiana, threw upon her market an-
nually, the rich and valuable products of their soil. These
were marketed here and bought up and paid for by the deal-
ers and merchants of Vincennes and the farmer paid for them
in high priced goods purchased in the eistern cities. This
process resulted in a golden harvest for the merchants and
traders. But the profit they realized from resources tributary
164 A History of Yixcennes.
to the place were not invested in industries and manufactu-
ries calculated to build up and advance the place, but were
unwisely loaned out to enterprising men in Terre Haute,
Evansville, Cincinnati and even Philadelphia. The money
thus loaned was used by the borrowers in establishing manu-
facturies in these cities to the detriment of Vincennes, where
the golden egg that enabled them to do these things was laid.
And it is a well known fact to many citizens now living in
Vincennes, that for many years the old merchants and busi-
ness men of the place, discouraged the location of manu-
facturies here for fear that these goods manufactured here
would come in competition with their wares purchased in
eastern cities and thus diminish their profits.
But all these drawbacks have spent their force. In spite of
them the city has maintained a steady advance, only stimu-
lated by its own natural resources. It is evident to the most
casual observer that a better feeling has dawned upon the
place. jN^ew men of enterprise and push have come and inau-
gurated a new programme. In the past fifteen years all the
improvements which are now the pride of the city have come.
And these improvements received no aid or encouragement
but the active opposition of the wealthy citizens of the place.
The magnificent system of water works which have been con-
structed, having no superior and but few equals in any city,
was violently opposed and only secured by a small majority
at a popular election. The street railroad system was not
favored or encouraged by many and was secured by the enter-
prise of a few individual citizens. The splendid electric light
plant which was erected last )^ear, lighting the city in all its
parts every night and all night, was secured after a long and
powerful opposition had spent its force. These and many
other aids to the upbuilding of a modern city have already
been secured. They are now operating as powerful factors in
hastening the onward march of improvement. ISTo such
Material Progress. 165
efforts will be required to be put forth in future to secure
additional aids as were required to obtain the ones we now
have. These are as it were, levers that have lifted the city
out of the mire of perdition, stripped it of its swaddling
clothes and put on it the garments of a rising giant.
The material structures of the city are being changed.
There is not in the city a solitary landmark reaching back
beyond 1800. The oldest house in the city is the Harrison
mansion, erected in 1S04, and that substantial structure is a
half century older than the one erected just after it. All the
old time houses have disappeared and their places have been
taken by modern houses of architectural designs, and present
a new and beautiful appearance. The real property of the
city has to a considerable extent changed owners and this
change is continuously going on. It may be said that in the
past twenty years the realty of the city has passed out of the
hands of the original proprietors into the possession of enter-
prising men. The material structures of the city are up to
date and present as attractive appearance as any city in In-
The hotel interest has caught the improvement fever and
within the past year the Grand Hotel has been enlarged and
improved at a great outlay of money so that Vincennes now
possesses what has been so long wanted, a first class hotel. This
hotel is really an advertisement of the city as strangers pass-
ing through a place see more of its hotels than any other of
its buildings and form their impressions of the place from the
character of its hotels.
"Within three years past more substantial buildings have
been erected in Vincennes than in any twenty years previous
thereto. This building boom is constantly on the increase
since it started three years ago. Each succeeding year sur-
passes the number of buildings erected the previous year.
During the present year all previous records have been broken
166 A History op Vincennes.
and the largest and most costly business houses and residences
have been erected.
Some of the wholesale business houses now in course of
erection are constructed on a mammoth scale and of as large
dimensions as can be found in any city in Indiana. They are
also located with an eye to business and economy in receiv-
ing and shipping goods with a private spur to them from the
main railroad track so that in the reception and distribution
of goods all drayage will be avoided. This mode of building
is original here and will be imitated in this city and else-
where as its advantages are apparent and will make Vincennes
an exceptional point for the rapid and cheap distribution of
goods of all kinds.
And the end is not yet. The improvement of tbe city is in
its infancy. This necessarily results from the natural and ac-
quired resources of the city which offers better inducements
than any other city in the state at this time for any one seek-
ing a location for active business or wishing to enjoy life
"otium cum dignitate."
While Vincennes has a venerable past on one side, on the
other side it is on the verge of an opening future full of youth
and* vitality. While it has a history reaching back to a time
"whereof the memon" of man runneth not to the contrary,"
it is now like an old man who has laid off his old clothes and
put on new ones.
Personal Mention. 167
The following is a list of the heads of families settled at
Post Vincermes on or before the 1st of August 1783, to each
of whom were donated 400 acres of land in the old. Donation
Louis Alaire, Joseph Andrez, Francois Brouillet, Francois
Boraye, Jr., John Baptiste Binette, Charles Boneau, Vital
Bencher, Marie, widow of Louis Bayer, Amable Boulon,
Charles Bugard, Mitchel Burclelow, Mitchel Brouillet, Fran-
cois Bosseron, Francois Boraye, Sr., Antoine Burdalow, Sr.,
Lonis Brouillet, Louis Bayer, John Baptiste Cardinal, Fran-
cois Coder, Pierre Cornoyer, Joseph Chabot, Antoine Cary,
Francois Compagniat, Jacques Cardinal, Joseph Chartier,
Xicholas Chapard, Joseph Charpontier, Piere Chartier, Sr.,
Moses Carter, Antoine Dronette, John Baptiste Dubois, John
Baptiste Duchene, Charles Dielle, Charles Delisle, Pierre
Daigneau, Antoine Dorrys, Lonis De Claurier, John Baptiste
Deloyier, Honore Dorrys, Charles Dudevoir, Amable Delisle,
Jacques Denze, Joseph Ducharme, Bonaventure Drogier,
Xicholas Ditart, Francois Desauve, Louis Edeline, Joseph
Flamelin, John Baptiste Javale, Paul Gamelin, Charles Gu-
sille, Touissaint Coder, Antoine Gamelin, Paul Gamelin,
Amable Gaurquipie, Alexis A. Gallinois, Pierre Gilbert, John
Baptist Harpin, Joseph Hunot, Sr., Etienne Jacques, Edward
Johnson, Jacques Latrimoille, Francois Lognon, Joseph Log-
non, Jacques Lacroix, Pierre Laforest, Anthony Luneford,
Charles Languedoc, Jacques Lamotte, Andre Languedoc,
Pierre Langlois, Joseph Leveron, Louis Laderoute, Francois
Languedoc, Louis Lamere, John Baptiste Mangen, Pierre
163 A History op Vincennes.
Mallet, Antoine Mallet, Andre Montplesir, Louis Meteyer,
Francois Winie, John Baptiste Mallet, Nicholas Mayat, Fran-
cois Mallet, Joseph Michael, Antoine Marier, Frederick Mahl,
Joseph Mallet, John Baptiste Moyes, Michael Nean, John
Baptiste Quillet, Joseph Perrdeau, Guillaume Payes, Pierre
Perret, Amable Perron, Pierre Quivez, Sr., John Baptiste St.
Marie Bacine, Pierre Begnez, Francois Bacine, Pierre Andre
Bacine, Louis Bavellette, Louis Baupiault, Joseph Baux, Jo-
seph St. Marie, Joseph Sabelle, John Baptiste, St. Aubin,
Etienne St. Marie, Francois Turpin, Francois Tuidel, Joseph
Tougas, Francois Vachette, John Baptiste Yaudray, John
Baptiste Vaudray, Jr., Francis Vigo, Alexander Vallez, An-
toine Vaudrez, John Baptiste Vilray, Angelique, widow of
Etienne Phillibert, Mary Louisa, widow of Nicholas Perrot,
Felicite, widow of Francois Peltier, Angelique, widow of
Francois Basinet, Marie, widow of Nicholas Cardinal, Su-
sanna, widow of Pierre Coder, Marianne, widow of Louis
Denoyou, Marie, widow of Hyacinthe Denoyou, Veronique,
widow of Guilleaume Daperon, Francois, widow of Ambrose
Dagenet, Genevieve, widow of Pierre Gremore, Ann, widow
of Moses Henry, Catarine, widow of John Baptiste Lafon-
taine, Madeline, widow of St. Jean Legarde, Veronique,
widow of Gabriel LaGrande, Marie Louis, widow of John
Philip Marie Lagras, Louise, widow of Antoine Lefevre, Cat-
arine, widow of Amable Lardoise, Madeline, Avidow of Joseph
Stone, Genevieve, wife of Joseph Laboissier, the husband de-
serted, Benez Godene de Pannah, Agate, widow of Amable
The following were the effective men belonging to Capt.
Pierre Gamelin's company at Post Vincennes, July 4th, 1790 :
Christopher Wyant, ensign; Peter Thorn, sergeant; Frederick
Mahl, sergeant; Jeremiah Mayes, sergeant; Bichard Johnson,
cadet; Bobert Johnson, Joseph Cloud, David Pea, John Loc,
Godfrey Peters, John Murphy, John Lafferty, Frederick Bar-
Personal Mention. 169
ger. George Barger, Peter Barger, Frederick Midle, Benja-
min Beckes, Bobert Day, Edward Sherbrook, John Westfall,
Edward Johnson, Joshua Harbin, John Bobbins, John Mar-
tin, Abraham Westfall, James Watts, Thomas Jordan, Will-
iam Smith, Daniel Smith, James Johnson, Ezekiel Holliclay,
Michael Thorne, Solomon Thorne, Daniel Thorne, Charles
Thorne, Christian Barkmari, Abraham Barkman, John Bice
Jones, Patrick Simpson, John Wilmore, Frederick Lindsay,
Matthew Dibbons, Hugh Demsey, John Cnlbert, Bobert Grra-
vert and Isaac Carpenter.
170 A History of Vincbnnbs.
Vincennes has been a common center in which congregated
an array of able and determined men. Most of these became
permanent residents. Many after a short sojourn went in
every direction to lay the foundations of society in other
places, to frame constitutions and laws for the well being of
generations of civilized people, and to exercise power and
authority over countries of vast extent.
It is impossible in a proper limit to enumerate all. Only
chosen examples illustrative of the qualities of the men who
laid the foundations of our social structure will be presented.
FRANCOIS MORGAN DEVINCENNE.
This distinguished man was a Canadian by birth. He was
a trusted officer in the service of the King of France. He
came here in command of the troops of the king to build the
old fort in 1702. He came and built the fort near the present
site of the Catholic church. He did not remain after per-
forming that service, but returned to Canada, He was there
entrusted with an expedition against the Indians near De-
troit, which was successful. The last mention of him in the
Canadian records is by Le Potheric, who says he was sent to
command the fort on the "Ouabasche. v When he came, then
lie remained until his death. He married a daughter of
Philip Longpre, of Kaskaskia, Illinois. His father-in-law
died in 1732 and left a large estate which was divided among
his children. The records in the Recorder's office at Kaskas-
kia show that de Yincenne went there to look after his wife's
interest and that his wife was then at the Post here. The
receipt for her to sign for her share was sent here and she
Distinguished Personnel. 171
signed it before witnesses. This receipt is still preserved in
the Becorder's office at Kaskaskia.
In 1736 the French were at war with the Chickasaw In-
dians, inhabiting the country to the south. De Vincenne
went with the troops of the fort here to attack them. An en-
gagement with them near where Memphis now stands was dis-
astrous and he was taken prisoner. He could have escaped
with the remnant of his force that retreated under De Voisin,
a French officer, and was entreated to do so. But he refused
to leave his wounded soldiers and was burned at the stake on
Faster Sunday, 1736. This place had never been called Vin-
cennes until after his death in 1736. When the remnant of
his troops returned here the place was named in his honor.
After his death his widow returned to her relatives in Kas-
kaskia. He left an only daughter named Maria Louisa, who
married Louis De Lisle, and left a large farmily of children
at Kaskaskia. Some of his descendants were still residing
there in 1836, and they all prided themselves on their rela-
tionship to him and added to their signatures the charmed
words "De Vincenne."
This celebrated and gifted officer is generally referred to by
his title de Vincenne and not by his family name Francois
Morganne. But this is very natural and is the general prac-
tice in all countries that were under the influence and opera-
tion of the feudal system. This is evident from Bobertson^s
history of Charles the Fifth and Hallam's Middle Ages and
other writers concerning that system. We have instances of
it in our own political history. All our school children have
heard of Count de Grass, who rendered such valuable service
to our fathers in the Bevolutionary war. But this appella-
tion is his title and not his family name, which was Francois
Joseph Paul. Again in the case of Count de Eochambeau.
His family name was Jean Baptiste Donatien. Again in the
case of Marquis de La Fayette, after whom so many counties,
172 A History of Vincennes.
cities and towns in this country are named. His family name
was Marie Joseph Eoch Gilbert. This custom among the
French, which was one of the countries under the feudal sys-
tem, is fully exemplified by that exhausting work con-
cerning the French in America during the Kevolutionary war,
by Thomas Balch, in vol. 2 of his work. And the same prac-
tice obtains to this day in England which was also under the
operation of the feudal system. To refer to a nobleman by his
title is the highest compliment that can be given him. John
Churchill after the Battle of Blenheim, was enobled and given
the title of Duke of Marlborough. Arthur Wellesley, after
his victory at Waterloo, was given the title of Duke of Wel-
lington, and George X. Curzon on his appointment as Vice-
roy of India, was given the title of Lord Kedleston, and by
their titles are always addressed and referred to. This cus-
tom is referred to by Sir Walter Scott in his Waverly novel of
"The Antiquary." And such was the case with De Vincenne.
That his family name was Francois Morganne is stated by Ed-
mond Mallet of the Carroll Institute of Washington City,
who has made a special study of French Canadian families,
and is the best authority on that subject. Also by Bishops
Brute and Bishop Hailandiere.
He was born at Montreal, Canada, April 7th, 1737. He was
specially educated with reference to missionary work among
the Indians of the Northwest. He was ordained priest at
Quebec, March 19th, 1768. Immediately after he was ap-
pointed Vicar General of the Archbishop of Quebec for the
Illinois country. He set out for the field of his life work and
spent the remainder of his days in missionary labors among
the Indians and French settlers in the Northwest. He ar-
rived at Kaskaskia on the 8th of September, 1768, and on that
clay his first official entry in the Church of the Immaculate
Conception is made. He found church matters in great con-
fusion, but by his energy and zeal in all the French settle-
ments on the Mississippi, he brought order out of confusion.
In the spring of 1770, he came to Vincennes, and with slight
interruptions remained here as the pastor of the church until
17S9. He was unquestionably the ablest man in the North-
west at that time. He had great influence over all the French
inhabitants in the Northwest. He was here as parish priest in
1778, when he heard of the American Revolution, and with
the instincts of all Frenchmen, he espoused the cause of the
American colonies. He called a public meeting to take place
in the old fort here which was then unoccupied. He addressed
the meeting and explained to them the nature of the struggle
and their duty as Frenchmen and lovers of their native land,
so as to induce them to unite with the struggling colonies, and
he administered to them the oath of allegiance to the Ameri-
can cause. The symbol of the Revolution, a red
and green flag, was then hoisted over the old
fort. This was in 1778. When news of this reached
the Canadian authorities, Gov. Henry Hamilton was
174 A History op Vincennes
sent here with an armed force to counteract the movement.
He came and retook the fort and arrested Father Gibault and
held him a prisoner for some time. He finally agreed to re-
lease him if he would leave the place. To this Father Gibault
agreed and he returned to Kaskaskia. This expulsion was a
jorovidential hajapening and placed him in a position where
his influence was equally great and where he could render
Gen. Clark substantial aid when he arrived with his small and
tired army July 4th, 1778. It was certainly through the in-
fluence of this influential and magnetic man that the gates of
that fortified place were opened to receive him without firing
a gun or losing a man. The same influence induced all the
French settlements on the Mississippi to do the same thing.
It was unquestionably Father Gibault that suggested and
planned the expedition to capture the old fort here. This was
not in the line of Gen. Clark's instructions and had never been
mentioned by him or any of his command until after the
bloodless capture of Kaskaskia. It was certainly his influence
that furnished Gen. Clark with two companies of Frenchmen
from Kaskaskia to aid him in his capture of the fort here. It
is well known that Father Gibault addressed the troops on
their departure from Kaskaskia for the Wabash and gave
them his blessing. He induced his friend and parishioner,
Francis Vigo, an Indian trader, at the present site of St.
Louis, to furnish means to aid the expedition. He also fur-
nished guides to conduct the force over the overflowed and icy
wilderness to this place. Gen. Clark with his small and worn
out force arrived here on February 24, 1779, and on the next
day compelled Gov. Hamilton to surrender the fort for want
of munitions of war and necessary supplies. The flag of Vir-
ginia, perhaps, was raised over the old fort here and the Eng-
lish dominion was at an end forever.
Father Gibault died at New Madrid, Missouri, in 1804, and
his body was sent to Canada, and this grand historical char-
acter who did so much for civilization and religion in the
Northwest, sleeps his last sleep in a lonely and unmarked
GEN. GEORGE ROGERS CLARK.
He was a descendant of a Virginia family, settled in Albe-
marle and Caroline comities. He was commissioned by Pat-
rick Henry, Governor of Virginia, to organize a military
force and proceed to capture the English fort at Kaskaskia.
He undertook the task but failed to gather the force or muni-
Gen. George Rogers Clark.
tions of war authorized by his commission. He only succeeded
by his own account in raising 150 men and with this force he
started from the Falls of the Ohio River at Louisville, in open
boats, on June 28, 1778, and after a tedious voyage of five
days down the Ohio River, he left his boats a few miles below
the mouth qf the Tennessee River and proceeded by land
without a road and through a desert country to Kaskaskia.
He arrived there on the opposite bank of the Kaskaskia River
176 A History of Vincennes.
on July 3d, 1778. The next day he crossed the river and ob-
tained possession of Kaskaskia without firing a gun or losing
a man. The same thing he accomplished in the same blood-
less manner in all the French settlements of the Mississippi
He then formed an expedition to capture the old fort here,
the real key to the possession of the Northwest. With a force
augmented by two companies furnished him at Kaskaskia, he
started February 5, 1779, on his campaign against the Eng-
lish fore here. He arrived here after many hardships incident
to the overflowed condition of the country on the 24th of Feb-
ruary, 1779, and on the next day compelled Gov. Hamilton,
the English commander, to surrender the fort and hoisted the
flag of Virginia over it. This result was also accomplished
without the loss of a single man. The English lost the entire
Northwest territory out of Avhich the five great and populous
states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin
have been formed.
Gen. Clark for this service was granted a large tract of land
in Clark county, Indiana, which was divided among the troops
of his command. He died at a plantation called "Locust
Grove" near Louisville, Kentucky, on the 12th of February,
He was a native of Mondovi in the Kingdom of Sardinia,
born about the year 1747. He left his native place and went
to Spain and enlisted as a Spanish soldier. With his com-
pany he came to New Orleans. He soon left the military
service and went up the Mississippi Eiver and located at an
Indian village on the high lands on the site of the present
City of St. Louis. He began to trade with the Indians and
although he was illiterate, was a successful trader. He be-
came possessed of a large estate for that early day. He was at
that Indian village on the Mississippi River when Gen. Clark
arrived at Kaskaskia, and without difficulty, obtained pos-
session of that French village. After Gen. Clark had obtained
possession of Kaskaskia and the other French villages on the
Mississippi Eiver, it was determined to undertake an expedi-
tion from Kaskaskia to capture the old fort on the Wabash at
Tincennes. When that expedition was planned, Col. Vigo
was induced to furnish aid and means to carry it on. It is
safe to claim that the influence that operated on Col. Vigo
was Father Pierre Gibault. Gen. Clark was not known to
Col. Vigo. He was, however, a member of Father Gibault's
congregation and he had great influence over him. Father
Gibault at the request of Col. Vigo, had erected the first Cath-
olic church in the Indian village where Col. Vigo resided.
However this may be, it is certain that Col. Vigo furnished
money and support, if Congress appropriations are to be be-
lieved, to aid the expedition. After Gen. Clark captured the
fort here, Col. Vigo came to Vincennes and located and con-
tinued to reside here until his death in 1836.
He was induced to come and locate here in consequence of
the land grants of Congress to the French, and he began to
trade with the Indians and the French inhabitants who had
178 A History of. Vincennes.
been granted lands by Congress. He was again successful
and by the time the United States Commissioners came here
to adjust French land grants in 1804, he had become the
largest land proprittor here. He was successful when trading
with the red savage or the ignorant Frenchman, but when he
came in contact with the educated class that came here, when
the territory was organized, this vast estate disappeared as the
morning mist is dissipated by the rising sun and he died in
1836, an object of charity.
When Col. Vigo came here he was unmarried, but he mar-
ried a Miss Shannon. She lived but a short time after the
marriage and bore him no children. At his death he left no
heirs of his body and no known blood kindred. The only re-
latives he left were by affinity with his wife.
When he came and long before, he was a devout Catholic.
It was through his exertions that many priests were sent here
by Bishop John Carroll of Baltimore, before and after 1796.
He was a very zealous Catholic in all church functions and his
name appears on the church register as godfather at many
baptisms and as witness to many marriages. This continued
until he became too old to attend to such church matters.
When the church here was incorporated in 1807, he was
elected one of the trustees and so continued until 1822 and
attended all meetings of the trustees. Yet his body after his
death was buried in a Protestant cemetery.
He was poor and wanting the necessaries of life at the time
of his death. When the branch of the State Bank of Indiana
was organized here in 1831, the first five dollar bill issued by
the branch was made payable to Col. Vigo. He would not use
this money although in distress, but depositel the bill in the
archives of the Vincennes Historical and Antiquarian Society
as a relic. It remained there for many years after the death
of Col. Vigo. It was abstracted from the archives of that
society by one John Decker, and put in circulation. Efforts
Distinguished Personnel. 179
were made to secure its return, but with what success is not
Col. Vigo had a claim before Congress for remuneration on
account of the advances he had furnished Gen. Clark. It was
never paid until forty years after his death. At the time of
payment by Congress he had no blood relations to become ben-
eficiaries of the appropriation. He had employed John Law,
Abner T. Ellis and Luther H. Reed as attorneys to prosecute
this claim, who were to receive their compensation out of any
funds Congress might appropriate.
In relation to this claim he frequently stated that the gov-
ernment was slow in allowing it and that he had become too
old for it to be of any use to him, and that if ever paid, the
Catholic church should have it. He made this statement to
Bishop Brute when on his death bed at the house of Betsy La-
Plante. But the claim was not paid until forty years after
his death and the church got nothing out of the appropriation
made by Congress. In 1834 he executed what purported to be
his last will. But this document on account of remarkable
provisions in it, was thought by his friends to have been exe-
cuted when he was "non compos." When Mr. English was
here looking up data for his history, he requested the author
to accompany him to the Catholic cemetery and show him the
grave of Col. Vigo. When informed Col. Vigo was not buried
in the Catholic but in the Protestant cemetery, he expressed
surprise. He was accompanied to the Protestant cemetery and
his neglected grave hunted up and after cutting away the
briers and scraping away the moss on the plain slab lying on
his grave, we found the elate of his death erroneously given.
This fact satisfied us that the plain slab had been placed there
by some good Samaritan not acquainted with the facts
connected with his death. In the remarkable will exe-
cuted during his declinging years it is provided that after
paying the lawyers' fees the balance of any money appro-
180 A History op Vincbnnes.
priated by Congress on his claims, should be used in
buying a small bell for the Court House of Vigo County,
Indiana, which was named in his honor, and the
entire balance should be paid to Francis McKee and
Archibald McKee. The will appointed Albert Badollet,
George W. Ewing and Archibald McKee, one of his devisees,
his executors. Messrs. Badollet and Ewing never qualified,
but McKee did, and took upon himself the sole execution of
the trust. The will also contained the provision that after
death his body should be disposed of in any manner his exec-
utors might see proper. This clause particularly caused re-
marks and his friends doubted his sanity at the time of its
execution. He died at the house of Betsy LaPlante, who lived
in a rented frame house on the southwest side of Main street
michvay between Fourth and Fifth streets. She was a poor
French woman and attended him in his last sickness and until
his death, March 22, 183G, and never received any compensa-
tion for her services. Andrew Gardner was the undertaker
who buried his remains and for his services charged the rea-
sonable and modest sum of twenty dollars. But this small
charge was not paid until forty years after his death and is
one of the few debts against his estate that were ever paid.
His executor and devisee never filed any inventory of his es-
tate or made any final report of the amount Congress allowed
on the claim or the manner it was disbursed, and did not pay
the costs of the administration or the printing of the funeral
tickets. Senator Voorhees stated the original claim of Col.
Vigo for supplies furnished Gen. Clark was $8,016. But
this claim was not allowed until 1875 when it was allowed
with the addition of $11,282.60 for interest. This large sum
was allowed forty years after the death of Col. Vigo, who had
no blood relations to be benefited, and it all went to persons
who had not ministered to him in his hour of distress.
Distinguished Personnel. 181
He was buried in the Protestant cemetery on the 22d of
March, 1836, with the honors of war.
GENERAL W. JOHNSON.
He was a native of Culpepper, County of Virginia. He
came to Vincennes and permanently located in 1783. He was
a prominent member of the bar and was the first attorney ad-
mitted to practice in the courts here. He filled many offices
of trust under the borough organization and also under the
territorial government. He was twice elected to the bench
as President Judge of the Knox Circuit Court. He was fre-
quently elected to represent the county in the legislature. He
was an enthusiastic Mason. He compiled the first code of
laws of the Indiana Territory. He resided on the west corner
of First and Hart streets in a house that was torn down the
present year. He died October 26th, 1833, and was buried
with Masonic honors.
GENERAL HYACINTHE LA88ELLE.
He was a Frenchman by birth and came to the Wabash
country from Canada in 1797. He remained here in business
until 1833, when he removed to Logansport, Indiana. He
was a practical Catholic and was one of the trustees of the
church as long as he resided here. He was in the military
service of the government when Zachary Taylor was com-
mandant of Fort Knox. When Col. Taylor was promoted for
his gallant defense of Fort Harrison in 1813, Gen. Lasselle
was promoted and succeeded him as commandant of Fort
Knox. He erected a very large frame hotel on the west corner
of Second and Perry streets, which was the principal hotel
of the town as long as he remained here. It was destroyed by
fire in 1871. Gen. Lasselle was one of the most active and
influential citizens of the place and his removal to Logansport
was generally regretted.
A History of Vixcennes.
WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON.
He was born at Burkeley, Virginia, on the banks of the
James EiYer. He descended from a revolutionary ancestry.
His father, Benjamin Harrison, was one of the signers of the
Declaration of Independence. He was educated in Virginia,
and imbibed the principles of the great men of that state. He
belonged to a wealthy family who had great influence in the
state and nation, and enabled him to obtain honorable and
remunerative employment. He was appointed the first Gov-
ernor of Indiana Territory and came to this place in 1801..
Distinguished Personnel. 183
When he came he found Vincennes in reality a French vil-
lage, as there were bnt few persons in the place who spoke or
understood any language except the French. When he came
there was not a brick house in the place. He erected in 1804,
on his plantation called "G-rouseland," adjoining the village,
a tine brick mansion which yet stands and will bear contrast
with any brick structure in the city. He was the patron of
learning and education and was instrumental in founding the
Vincennes Library and the Vincennes University. He com-
manded the troops in the bloody battle of Tippecanoe, fought
with the Indians in November, 1811. He was the candidate
of the Whig party in the memorable political contest of 1840,
when he was elected the ninth President of the United States
over Martin Van Buren, by a large majority of the electoral
vote. He was inaugurated President on the 4th of March,
1841, and one month after on April 4th, 1841, he died in the
presidential mansion at Washington City. His remains were
brought to Ohio and buried on his homestead estate at North
Bend on the Ohio River, a few miles below Cincinnati. Gen.
Harrison had represented Ohio in the Senate of the United
States before he was elected President. He left Vincennes
the latter part of October, 1811, on his way to tight the battle
of Tippecanoe, and never returned here to reside. He was
soon after the battle of Tippecanoe appointed a major-general
in the United States army and was engaged in military oper-
ations in the North and fought the battle of the Thames in
which Tecumseh, the celebrated Indian chief, was killed.
Although he never returned to this place to reside, he was held
in high esteem by the citizens. In the presidential election of
1840, on account of his personal popularity, he received a
large vote in this city and county. He visited Vincennes in
1835, and was at the house of Elihu Stout, where the writer
saw him frequently.
184 A History op Vincennes.
GENERAL JOHN GIBSON.
He was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, in May,_
1710. He was appointed the first Secretary of the Indiana
Territory and came here with Gen. Harrison in 1801. He re-
mained here until April, 1814, when as acting Governor of
the Territory, he removed with the capital to Corydon. He
was an honest man and capable official. During his long offi-
cial life he was always above temptation or suspicion, and left
an official record without a blemish. He had went through
severe and trying service in various Indian wars before he
came here. He was the interpreter to whom Logan, the cele-
brated Mingo chief, delivered the speech which has been im-
mortalized by Jefferson in his notes on Virginia. He died at
'"Braddocks Fields" near the City of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania,
at the residence of George Wallace, his son-in-law, on April
1 9th, 1822, in the 82d year of his age.
He was born in the City of Geneva, Switzerland, in the
year 1758. He was the son of a Lutheran minister. A strong
friendship and attachment sprung up between him and Albert
Gallatin. They came to the United States together and ar-
rived here about 1776. He first settled in Pennsylvania and
during his residence there was entrusted with various state
offices. Through the influence of his friend Albert Gallatin,
he was appointed the first Eegistrar of the United States land
office at this place, and came and permanently located here
and remained until his death. He discharged the complicated
duties of the Registrar's office with such exactness that no er-
rors have been detected in his work. • He continued as Regis-
trar of the land office until 1836, when he resigned and his
son, Albert Badollet, was appointed in his place. He was one
of the commissioners appointed by the United States to adjust
land srrants in the Yincennes District. He was elected a mem-
Distinguished Personnel. 185
ber of the convention that framed the first Constitution of
Indiana in 1816. He served on many important committees
in that convention and was an influential and useful member.
He died universally regretted, July 29, 1837.
He was appointed the first Receiver of Public Monies of
the land office here. He came here to discharge the duties of
that office and remained here until his death. He was one of
the United States Commissioners to adjust land titles in the
Vincennes District. He was one of the many able men who
came here during territorial clays. He was full of resources
and was always ready to encourage any enterprise calculated
to benefit the place. He died August 6, 1846, at his county
seat four miles east of Vincennes. His remains were brought
to this city and buried in the public cemetery and a fine mon-
ument erected over his grave. He left six children, three
sons and three daughters. Caroline married Dr. George W.
Mears, of Indianapolis; Harriet married James Farrington,
of Terre Haute ; and Sarah married John Law. G-eorge W.
Ewing was elected Probate Judge and acquired the title of
the "Orphans' Friend." William L. Ewing went to St. Louis
and engaged in banking and accumulated a large fortune.
James Ewing remained here and was a successful business
He was a Virginian by birth and was^a descendant of Rev-
olutionary ancestors. He came to Vincennes a stranger to
fortune, and fame, as a United States military officer, to take
command of Fort Knox. He began his military career here
and gained his first distinction by his gallant defense of
Fort Harrison in 1811, which brilliant achievement se-
cured his promotion. He resided in Vincennes with his fam-
ily and here his daughter, Jessie Taylor, who afterwards mar-
A History op Vincennes.
ried Jefferson Davis in a runaway match, was born. He left
here with his family after 1812 and was stationed at Baton
Rouge. Louisiana, in command, of the Department of the
Gulf, He was in command here at the breaking out of the
Mexican war and commanded the army at the storming of
Matamoras and the battles of Saltillo and Buena Yista. He
was elected the twelfth President of the United States in
1848, and was inaugurated March 4, 1849. He died in the
executive mansion at Washington City during his term, on
July 4th, 1850.
GEORGE ROGERS CLARK SULLIVAN.
He was born on the farm of his father, General Henrj'
Sullivan, near Louisville, Kentucky. He studied law and was
admitted to practice. He was a brother-in-law of Elihu
Stout, and came here and practiced his profession for many
years. He was honored while here with many marks of popu-
lar favor. He was often elected to office under the old
borough and was one of the first postmasters of Vincennes.
He was several times elected a member of the Legislature and
also Prosecuting Attorney. He was very successful in his
practice and had the reputation of being one of the most elo-
quent men at the bar of his time. He was employed in the
Distinguished Personnel. 187
defense in grave criminal cases at home and abroad. In one
of such cases he received as a fee the portrait of his namesake,
George Kogers Clark. This was one of the only two that were
ever painted from life. He brought it to Vincennes and it is
now preserved in the Vincennes University. He married
Helen Vanderburg, one of the daughters of Judge Vander-
burg, and raised a large family of children. He removed from
here and went to Quincy, Illinois, where he died. Many of
his descendants now reside there and occupy prominent places
He was born in Kentucky and was a member of the cele-
brated Buckner family of that state. He studied law and
was admitted to the bar. He came here to practice law. When
the capital was removed to Corydon, he left and located at
Charlestown, Indiana. He continued to practice law there.
When the Grand Lodge of Masons was organized he was
elected the first Grand Master. He removed to Missouri and
when that state was admitted into the Union, he was elected
one of its Senators in the United States Senate. He died in
the prime of life of the cholera in 1833, and was buried at
night by negro servants in a lonely grave which remained un-
marked until a few years ago. The Grand Lodge of Masons
of Indiana in 1897, took action in the matter and appointed
a committee to go and seek out his lonely grave and erect over
his remains a suitable monument. This committee of which
Mason J. Kiblack of this city, was chairman, went in the dis-
charge of their duty and found his lonely grave and trans-
ferred his remains to St. Gerard cemetery on the Mississippi
Eiver and erected over this new made grave a suitable mon-
ument properly inscribed to mark his final resting place. This
action of the Masonic Grand Lodge was creditable to the order
and negatives the oft repeated saying "Out of sight out of
188 . A History of Vincennes.
He was born in New Jersey, September 29, 1777, and re-
moved to this place in 1801. He filled many offices under the
territorial government. He was elected a delegate to Congress
from the Territory. He resided here in the house on the cor-
ner of First and Hart streets, which was known as '"Park
Place." On the organization of the state government he was
appointed the first Federal Judge for the District of Indiana.
On receiving this appointment in order to be nearer Corydon,
the capital of the state, he removed to Salem, where he con-
tinued to reside until his death August 12, 1835. He was still
the District Judge of Indiana at the time of his death.
He was born in Maryland and was. an accomplished scholar
and lawyer, and very eloquent. He married into the family
of Charles Carroll, one of the signers of the Declaration of
Independence. He came to Vincennes with his family when
the state government was organized and was admitted to the
bar here in 1818, and commenced the practice of law here.
He soon rose to the front rank of his profession. A brilliant
career was opening before him when a false report connected
him with the wife of Cleves Harrison. She was a pure and
cultured woman and the daughter and only child of Gen.
Pike. Although the rumor had no foundation and was dis-
credited by the people generally, and thought to have been
originated by jealous rivals, it so operated upon his pure and
sensitive nature as to induce him to terminate his connection
with the place and return to his native state.
He was a native of New Jersey and a graduate of Prince-
ton College. He commenced the practice of law here and
became a popular favorite. He was elected a member of the
Distinguished Personnel. 189
Legislature and was made Speaker of the House. He was
the first President Judge of the Knox Circuit Court. He
was appointed September 10, 1817, one of the Judges of the
Supreme Court of Indiana, to fill a vacancy caused by the
death of John Johnson. He remained continuously on the
bench of the Supreme Court until January 3d, 1853. He
was afterwards appointed one of the Judges of the United
States Court of Claims at Washington City. He was not a
speaker of any force and made few speeches, but was re-
garded as a well read lawyer and safe counsellor. He will be
remembered in Indiana on account of the many able decisions
he rendered while on the Supreme Bench and for the eight
volumes of the decisions of that court which bear his name.
He married a Miss Johnson of this county, but their marriage
relations were not pleasant and they separated many years
before his death and never lived together after the separa-
tion. He had one son, George Blackford, by his marriage
with Miss Johnson, who was finely educated by his father
and gave indications of becoming a worthy successor of his
father but died before reaching manhood. Judge Blackford
at the time of his death was very wealthy and owned much
valuable real estate in the business center of Indianapolis.
This learned man and able lawyer came to Vincennes soon
after the organization of the state government. He was
elected President Judge of the Knox Circuit Court and dur-
ing his term presided during the trial of Thomas McKinney
for the murder of James Boyd, and during the trial of Will-
iam Cox, a colored man, for committing a rape on a Miss
Smith. Both were convicted of the charges against them and
were sentenced to be hung and were accordingly e'xecuted,
McKinney on the 22d of .October, 1822, and Cox on April 9,
j 824. These were the only persons ever executed in Knox
190 A History op Vincennes.
county in accordance with the sentence of a court until the
execution of Sylvester G-rubb in April, 1889. Judge Call
was elected to Congress from this district over Thomas H.
Blake in 1824. He was never married, but at the time of his
death, was engaged to Miss Ellen Egan, a lady residing in
Lexington, Kentucky. He went there for the purpose of
being married in 1825. He died very suddenly before the
ceremony was performed and it was generally supposed he
He was a native of Lunenberg County, Virginia. He
studied law and came here in territorial days to practice his
profession. He rose rapidly in public estimation and was
elected Judge of the Common Pleas Court. When the state
was admitted into the Union in 1816, he was elected one of
the United States Senators as the colleague of James Noble.
He took his seat in the Senate of the United States, Decem-
ber 12th, 1816, and drew the term expiring March 4th, 1819.
He was the first and only United States Senator elected who
resided here when elected. He died at his mothers house in
Lunenberg County, Virginia, August 26, 1826.
He was a native of Virginia and a blood relation of the
celebrated John Eandolph of Boanoke, and also of Thomas
Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence. He
was a lawyer of superior ability, a' fine scholar and forcible
speaker. He was the United States Attorney for the District
of Indiana. In 1809 he was a candidate for delegate in Con-
gress against Jonathan Jennings. Being a Virginian by
birth and an intimate friend of Gov. Harrison, who was
known to be favorable to the suspension of the operation of
the ordinance of 1787, forbidding slavery for a term of
years, he was charged by the friends of Mr. Jennings to be
Distinguished Peksonnel. 191
secretly in favor of slavery. Mr. Randolph denied this charge
and challenged Dr. McNamee, an ardent supporter of Jen-
nings, who circulated the charge, to fight a duel. But Mc-
Namee refused to accept the challenge. A paper was started
here to oppose Randolph and assist in the election of Jen-
nings. The contest was very hitter and resulted in the defeat
of Mr. Randolph by a majority of 43 votes.
EDWARD A. HANNEGAN.
He was born in the State of Ohio. In early life he removed
to Lexington, Kentucky. He studied law and came here and
commenced his brilliant career. He was married here by
Rev. Samuel R. Alexander, on April 4th, 1829, to Miss Mar-
garet C. Duncan. After practicing his profession here for
several vears he removed to Covington, Indiana. He was
elected to the 23d and 24th Congresses from his district. In
1843 he was elected to the Senate of the United States to
succeed Oliver H. Smith, and served one full term of six years
in that body. He was regarded as the most eloquent member of
the Senate during his service. He delivered an extempore
eulogy on the death of Henry Clay, the "Great Commoner,"
which was regarded by the country as a master performance.
During the presidential election of 1844, the Democratic
party declared in favor of fixing the Oregon boundary line at
54 degrees, 40 minutes or fight. But after the election
Mr. Polk yielded to the demands of Great Britain and the
boundary line was fixed at 49 degrees. For this concession
Mr. Hannegan denounced the President in a speech of great
power on the floor of the Senate in the course of which he
used the memorable expression, "by this act of perfidy the
President has sunk himself so low in popular estimation that
the hand of resurrection would never reach him." After the
close of his senatorial career he left the state and located at
St. Louis to practice his profession. But soon after he died
A History op Vincennes.
of a broken heart occasioned by the homicide of his friend
and brother-in-law, under an insane impulse.
He was born in the City of New. York in 1798. He came
to Indiana and first located at Merom in Sullivan County.
But he soon came here and located and remained here until
his death. He was regarded as one of the ablest lawyers in
the state. His reputation was not confined to the limits of
the state. He was frequently employed in important cases in
other states. In the court here he was employed on one side
of every important case that came before the court for trial.
He was the chief counsel employed by the Vincennes Uni-
versity in the long and tedious litigation springing from the
unjust attempt of the Indiana Legislature to deprive the Vin-
cennes University of the grant of lands made to it by Con-
gress. When the case was in the state courts, Mr. Judah
was before an unfriendly tribunal and the decisions were
always against him. But not discouraged by the adverse de-
cisions of the state court, he persevered and appealed to the
Supreme Court of the United States, and was there success-
Distinguished Personnel. 198
fill and finally prevented the state from diverting the land
grants for the benefit of the Indiana University. Mr. Judah
married Harriet Brandon, a daughter of Alexander Brandon,
and three sons and three daughters were the fruit of this
marriage. Of the daughters, Mrs. Alice Clark alone survives.
The three sons are living. John M. Judah is a leading at-
torney of Indianapolis. Noble Judah occupies a prominent
position at the bar and in political circles in Chicago. Sam-
uel B. Judah resides in Vincennes and is the Deputy Revenue
Collector of this district and collects monthly about a quarter
million dollars of internal revenue. Mr. Judah died at Vin-
cennes, April 24, 1869, and was buried in the city cemetery.
ABNER T. ELLIS.
He was born in New England. He came here and com-
menced the practice of law. He secured a large and lucrative
practice and accumulated a large estate. He was for many
years President of the Board of Trustees of the Borough of
Vincennes. He was an active promoter in organizing the
Wabash Navigation Company and in building the lock and
clam at the grand rapids of the Wabash River. He was one
of the persons who advocated the building of the Ohio and
Mississippi Railroad connecting the Ohio and Mississppi
Rivers by a railroad extending from Cincinnati, Ohio,
through Vincennes to St. Louis. He was instrumental in
procuring a charter from the States of Ohio, Indiana and
Illinois, to authorize the building of the road. He was
elected the first president of the corporation formed to build
it and was re-elected several times. The road was finally
biult and in great part through his active support. He was
elected Probate Judge of Knox County and also a State Sen-
ator from Knox County. After an active life and the ac-
cumulation of a large estate, he died in this city in October,
1864, in embarrassed circumstances.
194 A History op Vincennes.
He was born in Somerville, New Jersey, and was a gradu-
ate of Princeton College. He came to Vincennes when a very
young man but must have had winning and attractive man-
ners as he was elected soon after, and became President Judge
of the Knox Circuit Court. But he did not hold the position
very long as he died during his term, February 22, 1822.
He came to Vincennes during territorial days and com-
menced his active business life here. He was a lawyer by
profession. He was elected President Judge of the Knox
Circuit Court in 1817. He was a young man when he came
here and married Theresa Punyea, a daughter of one of the
old resident French families of Vincennes. The family re-
sided on the corner of Main and Sixth streets, where the
Presbyterian parsonage now stands. The father and mother
of his wife lived to an advanced age, being over ninety years
old at death. Judge Prince was elected to Congress from
this district in 1824, but died during his term of office. When
Gibson County was organized in 1813, Judge Prince removed
there with his family and "Princeton," the county seat was
named in his honor. He left surviving him, two daughters,
one of whom married Samuel Hall, once Lieutenant-Gover-
nor of Indiana, and afterwards President of the Evansville
and Terre Haute Eailroad. Many of his descendants are
now living in Princeton. He died in 1824.
RT. REV. SIMON WILLIAM GABRIEL BRUTE.
He was the first Eoman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of
Vincennes. He was born in Eennes, France, March 20, 1779,
of noble parentage. He was finely educated and prepared for
a medical profession and a bright field in his native country
was open before him. But he turned his back upon it and
Distinguished Personnel. 195
determined to enter the ministry and fill up the ranks de-
pleted by the fury of the French Eevolution. He arrived at
Baltimore, Md., August 10, 1809. He was first engaged in
teaching in a seminary in Baltimore, but was soon transferred
to Mt. St. Mary's College at Emmitsburg. He built up this
college and made it one of the principal seats of learning in
this country, a reputation it still enjoys. While quietly em-
ployed at this college he was, against his wishes, appointed the
first Bishop of the newly created Diocese of Vincennes, then
in an impoverished and unorganized condition. He was con-
secrated by Bishop Flaget of Louisville, at St. Louis, and in
company with Bishops Flaget and Purcell, came here and
took possession of his pauper diocese, saying his first mass in
the unplastered cathedral on November 5, 1831. He soou
gained the esteem of the people generally and by his charita-
ble and virtuous deportment, acquired the reputation of sanc-
tity. He died on the 26th of June, 1839, and his remains
are entombed in the basement chapel of the cathedral.
RT. REV. CELESTINE RENE LAURENT GUINEMERE DE LA HAILANDIERE.
He was the second Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Vin-
cennes. He was born in the Town of Comborg, France,
May 2, 1798. The French Eevolution was still desolating
France and the Beign of Terror was exterminating the priest-
hood. Being of noble birth and assured of an honorable
career in civil life, he determined to join the ministry and fill
up its thinned ranks. He was ordained priest at Paris on
May 28, 1825. When Bishop Brute was in France seeking
priests for his diocese, he met him and determined to accom-
pany him to this country and aid him in the work of build-
ing up his diocese. He arrived at Vincennes in the fall of
1836. He was assigned to work as parish priest at Vin-
cennes and continued to labor in that position until the
death of Bishop Brute. At that time he was in France solic-
196 A History op Vincennes.
iting funds for the diocese. He was appointed the second
bishop while in France and was consecrated at the Chapel of
the Sacred Heart in Paris, by Bishop Janson, assisted by the
Bishops of Versailles and Beauvais. Soon after his conse-
cration, he started for Vincennes and arrived here November
14, 1839. He had succeeded in collecting a large sum of
money in France which he used in finishing the cathedral.
He was a man of liberal ideas and good judgment and fore-
sight and prudently purchased real estate in all parts of the
diocese, which was of great value to the church. He contin-
ued to preside over the diocese until 1848, when he resigned
the see and returned to his ancestral home in France. Here
he lived in retirement on his estate atTriandin, France, until
he died on May 1, 1882. He never forgot the diocese of Vin-
cennes and every year sent from his private means considera-
ble sums of money to aid the diocese. He always expressed
a wish to be buried in Vincennes. In accordance with this
desire, his nephew, Ernest Audran, went to France and pro-
cured his remains, and brought them to Vincennes, and on
the 22d of November, 1882, they were entombed with appro-
priate religious services in the basement chapel of the cathe-
RT. REV. JAMES M. MAURICE DE LONG DE ST. PALAIS.
He was the fourth Bishop of Vincennes. He was born at
La Salvetat in the Diocese of Montpelier, in the south of
France, November 15, 1811. He was descended from an
ancient and noble family. He could trace his ancestry back
through centuries. His family was wealthy. But he decided
on a ministerial course and for this purpose was educated at
the celebrated Seminary of St. Sulpice at Paris. He finished
his theological studies at this seminary and was ordained
priest by Bishop Brute when he was on a visit to France. He
determined to devote his life to missionary work in the West.
He came to Vincennes and was assigned to duty in various
Distinguished Personnel. 197
parts of the diocese. He was for some time at Chicago, when
it was a mere village. He was afterwards at Logansport and
other small missionary stations in the state, undergoing all
the hardships and privations incident to pioneer life in the
wilderness. He was on the death of Bishop Bazin, appointed
the fourth Bishop of Vincennes on October 3, 1848. On the
14th of January, 1849, he was consecrated Bishop in St.
Francis Xavier Cathedral by Bishop Miles of Nashville, and
Bishop Spaulding of Louisville. He immediately entered on
the discharge of his duties. He soon gained the good will of
all with whom he came in contact, and of all denominations.
He was the most unassuming and approachable man that was
ever known in Viccennes. He seemed to- be as innocent as a
child and always had a pleasant word for any one he met.
He was connected with 'the Diocese of Vincennes for 41 years,
13 of which he spent as a missionary priest in a wild and
sparsely settled country, and 28 as head of the diocese. He
died very suddenly at St. Mary's Academy near Terre Haute,
June 28, 1877, and his remains were entombed in the base-
ment chapel of the cathedral.
REV. SAMUEL T. SCOTT.
He was the pastor of the Presbyterian church of this place,
who died December 30, 1827. This good and exemplary pas-
tor was virtually the builder and organizer of the Presby-
terian church and congregation in Vincennes. By his pure
holy and exemplary life he endeared himself to all classes of
people and his death was universally regretted. We extract
from the Western Sun of January 12, 1828, from an obituary
notice of this truly good and pious pastor :
"In the death of this worthy and pious man society is
bereaved of one of its most useful and amiable members.
The general gloom spread over the country! the number
larger than we have ever witnessed here on a similar occasion
198 A History of Vincennes.
who assembled to pay the deceased the last solemn tribute of
their respect ; the tears of affection and friendship shed upon
his grave are evidences strong and clear of the worth of our
HENRY M. SHAW.
He was the pastor of the Episcopal church here for many
years. In addition to his pastoral duties he conducted a
seminary for the education of young ladies. He was one of
the most eloquent men who ever lived in Vincennes. On the
occasion of Lafayette's visit to this country in 1825, he was
selected by the citizens here to go to Louisville and deliver a
welcome address on the occasion of his visit to that city. He
went and delivered the address of welcome which was pro-
nounced by Lafayette and the many who heard it, to have
been the finest address delivered on such occasions, among
the many which had been delivered in different parts of the
country. He was elected to represent this district in the
Senate of Indiana. After a long and brilliant career here, he
determined to go to Texas and locate. He started with his
family but died on the way and his family returned to this
MICHAEL EDGAR SHAWE.
He was born in England in the village of Oscott. He re-
ceived a fine education and was appointed a captain in the
British army. During his military service the battle of
Waterloo was fought and his regiment was in the thickest of
the battle. He received a severe wound and was carried from
the field and it was thought he could not recover. But his
mother hastened to his side and nursed him through a sick-
ness of many months. After his recovery, he determined to
abandon a military career and become a minister of the gospel.
He resigned his commission in the British army and went to
the Seminary of St. Sulpice in Paris, to study for the minis-
trv. He finished his ecclesiastical studies here. But before
Distinguished Personnel. 199
his ordination was found by Bishop Brute, then in France,
seeking priests for his diocese. He agreed to accompany him
and came here with him and was ordained priest by the
bishop, March 12, 1837. He was among the most gifted and
eloquent men who ever resided here. He immediately com-
menced his career as a Catholic priest. He accompanied
the bishop on his visitation throughout the diocese,
preaching everywhere to large congragations. He was first
stationed at Madison and by his exertions, built up St.
Michael's church. He was afterwards appointed Professor
of Belles Lettres in Notre Dame University and continued his
connection with that university for several years, and left
it in a flourishing condition. He was appointed pastor of
the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul at Detroit, His
brilliant career was unfortunately terminated by an accident
when on his way to consecrate a church in the vicinity of
Detroit, which resulted in his death, May 10, 1853. His re-
mains were interred in the family lot of R. R, Elliott, a
banker of Detroit, who erected a fine monument over his
grave, with the coat of arms of his family inscribed upon it.
He was born in Newark, New Jersey, and learned the
printers trade. He came West and obtained employment on
the Kentucky Gazette, published at Lexington, Kentucky, by
the Bradfords. He remained with them several years. Aft-
erwards he went to Nashville, Tennessee, and obtained em-
ployment there. He there made the acquaintance of Andrew
Jackson and contracted a friendship which continued during
their lives. When the Indiana Territory was organized he
determined to come to Vincennes, the capital of the terri-
tory, and start a newspaper. He made all the necessary prep-
arations to start his paper, surmounting many difficulties. He
finally surmounted them all and issued the first number of
A History of Vincenxes.
his paper, July 4, 1804. This office was destroyed by fire in
1806. But he immediately went to Kentucky and purchased
another outfit, And on the 4th of July, 1807, he issued a
number of his paper. This was the first paper published
within the limits of Indiana, and the first paper published
anywhere in the Northwest Territory save the "Liberty Hall"
and "Cincinnati Gazette," published at Cincinnati, Ohio, a
few months previous. This paper thus founded has with
slight interruptions, a continued existance to the present time.
It is now and has always been Democratic in politics. In
1845, Mr. Stout was appointed postmaster at Yincennes, and
severed his connection with the press. At the expiration of
his term as postmaster, he was elected by the voters of Knox
County, Eecorder of Deeds for two terms, although the
county was strongly opposed to him in politics at the time.
He was a member of the Methodist Episcopal church. He was
also a very enthusiastic Free Mason and was the first Master
Distinguished Personnel. 201
of the Lodge here. After the organization of the Grand
Lodge of Indiana, he was elected Grand Master of that lodge.
He often requested during life to be buried by the Masonic
fraternity. His death was very sudden and hastened by the
troubles in the Democratic party in 1860, which he believed
would result in the dissolution of the Union or a long and
bloody war. He died in April, 1860, and according to his
wishes was buried with Masonic orders in the city cemetery.
JOHN F. BAYARD.
He was born in Grenoble, France, September 11, 1786. He
enlisted in the French army and became an officer in the
Grand Army of the Empire under Bonaparte. He partici-
John F. Bayard.
pated in the various campaigns and battles in which the
Grand Army took part. He fortunately passed through the
ordeal unhurt. When the Emperor abdicated in 1815, he re-
signed his commission in the army and received an honorable
discharge. He then determined to leave France and come to
the United States. He applied for and received permission
from the authorities to emigrate'. He came to this countrv
202 A History of Vincennes.
and settled for brief periods in different places. He finally
came to Vincennes about 1820, and permanently located. He
married here, Mary Ann Boneau in 1823, and became the
father of a large family, six daughters and three sons. The
children all married. Susan married M. A. Pilard, Mary
Louise married Prosper Eluere, Adelia married Marcelle D.
Lacroix, Eleanor P. married Charles A. Weisert, Mary Eliza-
beth married Henry V. Somes and Margaret Clotilda mar-
ried Henry S. Cauthorn. The three sons all become promi-
nent and influential bank men. Samuel was president of the
largest bank in Evansville at the time of his death. John
Francis was a prominent bank man here until his death and
Joseph L. Bayard is now president of the First National
Bank of Vincennes, Indiana.
Mr. John F. Bayard was a successful business man and left
a large estate. He was an exemplary and practical Catholic.
He died February 13, 1853, and was buried in the Catholic
Judge Moore, as he was familiarly called, was born in the
City of Staunton, Virginia, in the year 1788. He came to
Vincennes at a very early age in time to enlist in the army
which Gen. Harrison raised for the Tippecanoe Campaign in
1811, and went with that army and took part in that bloody
battle. He afterwards returned to this place and enlisted in
a company and performed valuable services in the Black
Hawk war. After that war was over he commenced here as
a builder and contractor of public and private buildings. He
built the Knox County Court House, the Town Hall and St.
James Episcopal church, and in fact, all the principal pub-
lic and private buildings erected in the town for thirty years.
He also during that time filled many places of trust and profit
under the Borough Government, and was Trustee, Marshal and
President of the Board of Trustees of the Borough. He was
elected Judge of the Knox County Probate Court and f or many
rears discharged the duties of that important position with
fidelity and general satisfaction. He was a careful and pru-
dent financier and on account of his peculiar fitness for the
position, was appointed agent of the Vincennes Branch of the
State Bank of Indiana, which responsible position he filled
and held with marked ability until the charter of the bank
expired. When the city government was organized in 1856,
he was elected first Mayor of the city and was re-elected to
the same position. The city was organized soon after the
state law was passed providing for the organization of
cities. It was one of the first cities organized under that law
and was without a code of ordinances for its government. The
first City Council by resolution required the city attorney to
prepare and report a code of ordinances for its government.
The writer was at the time city attorney and was engaged for
a period of two years in drafting and reporting such a code
as the ordinances had to be drafted without any guide to
resort to as no city in the state had at the time any code. In
204 A History op Vincennes.
the preparation of the code of ordinances, Judge Moore by
his experience and acquaintance in dealing with such matters,
rendered the writer important and invaluable services, The
code of ordinances thus prepared was published by Harvey
Mason & Co., comprising according to recollection over 200
pages of printed matter. Before the expiration of his second
term as Mayor, he was appointed by President Buchanan,
postmaster at Vincermes, and during his four years term
discharged his duties faithfully and satisfactorily to the citi-
zens. At the end of his term as postmaster he retired from
active business having by prudence, industry and economy ac-
quired a fortune sufficient for all his wants. He was a model
and upright citizen, a kind and affectionate father. He was
a member of the Catholic church and a Democrat in politics.
He died December 23, 1 864, and was buried in the Catholic
cemetery on Christmas day.
He was born in Brownsville, Pennsylvania. He came to
Vincennes and permanently located. He was preceeded here
by his brother, John, and later by his brother, William J.
These three brothers formed the partnership of J. S. & W. J.
Wise, which has the distinction of a continued existence of
thirty -five years and was never settled until after the death
of all the partners. After the death of William J. Wise, the
last survivor of the firm, the partnership affairs were adjusted
and the heirs of John and Samuel received their portion
without any trouble. But William J. Wise never married and t
made a will and after a long and expensive contest, the will
was sustained and his interest distributed among his devisees.
Mr. Samuel Wise possessed good judgment and his advice
was always sought. He was very unassuming and was kind
to all who approached him. He Avas a very ardent Democrat
and took a deep interest in politics. He was a great admirer
DlSTINXHTISHED PERSONNEL. 205
of John C. Calhoun and warmly espoused his views. He was
not an office seeker, but he was appointed by President Polk,
Receiver of Public Monies at this place, which was the only
official position he ever held. He was not a member of any
secret society or of any church. But his family affiliated with
the Presbyterian church and he was always ready to furnish
aid to that church. He died suddenly November 3, 1855.
He was born in the State of Massachusetts. He came to
Vincennes and located permanently in 1816. He engaged in
the cabinet making and undertaking business which he con-
tinued until his death. He was the principal undertaker in
the place during his life. After his death the business was
successfully carried on by his son, E. G. Gardner, who is still
living at the advanced age of 82 years. He voluntarily re-
tired from business and passed its good will to his son, Dexter
Gardner, who continued it alone for many years and last
year took his son, George Gardner, as partner, and they are
still conducting the same business originally started in 1816
by Andrew Gardner. The business is now conducted by Dex-
ter Gardner & Son, who are the principal undertakers in the
city. Andrew Gardner was a model citizen. He was fre-
quently called to fill important offices in the Borough of Vin-
cennes. He was not an office seeker and the positions he
obtained were freely bestowed upon him. He was on one oc-
casion the Democratic candidate for Treasurer of Knox
County. The politics of the county was strongly Whig at
the time, and that party fearing the personal popularity of
Mr. Gardner, nominated against him, James Johnson, their
strongest man. The race was exciting but Mr. Johnson was
elected by a very small majority. Mr. Gardner was a faith-
ful member of the Methodist church. He died in the spring
206 A History of Vincennes.
Mr. Smith was one of the oldest successful and highly re-
spected business men who ever resided in Vincennes. He was
of Scotch descent. He was horn in the City of Newark. New
Jersey, September 14, 1790. His father lost his life in the
Passaic River when he was only two years old. He was thus
thrown upon his own resources, but he set out with an earn-
est determination to make his way through the world. In
1810 he came to Cincinnati, Ohio, and opened a tin shop on
Fourth street. Two years later he returned on foot to his
native city. In 1817 he again came West intending to locate
in St. Louis. On his way he passed though Vincennes. After
remaining in St. Louis a very short time he determined to
return to Vincennes and permanently locate here. He
opened a hardware store on the corner of Main and Second
streets and afterwards removed to the large brick building
which he erected on Main street, where he continued to carry
on business until his death in conjunction with his two sons,
John A. and Edward H. Smith. During seventeen years of
his life, he engaged in trading and boating to New Orleans.
He also engaged in land speculation in Indiana and Illinois,
travelling on horseback over the Wabash Valley in both
states, and became widely known in the Wabash Valley as
far as Lafayette. His boating and trading operations to New
Orleans were conducted on an extensive scale, some years
sending as many as forty flatboats down the Mississppi River.
He was strictly attentive to his own business affairs and was
never tempted to engage in politics or any other outside
matters. By his sagacity and prudence he amassed a large
fortune which he left to his children. Two of his sons are
still in business in this city and two others built up one of the
largest hardware establishments in Terre Haute. Mr. Smith
was not a member of any religious society, but was partial to
the Presbyterian church and contributed largely to the sup-
Distinguished Personnel. 207
port, of that church. He was up to the time of his death very
vigorous and active and was an early riser and every day until
a few clays before his death, was one of the first to be seen
on the streets of the city. Notwithstanding his extensive
business transactions, he did so without friction or incurring
the ill will of any one with whom he had dealings, and en-
joyed the good will and friendship of all the citizens of the
city. He was probably the best known of any of the citizens
of Vincennes. He died on Tuesday, August 1, 1871, after
a brief illness of only four days. As a testimony of his stand-
ing and appreciation among his friends and neighbors, his
remains were followed to the grave by an immense concourse
BENJAMIN V. BECKES.
He was of Welch descent but was born in Vincennes in
1786. He was raised in Vincennes and spoke French flu-
ently. He was a farmer and stock raiser and was very suc-
cessful and accumulated a large estate. His brother, Par-
menas Beckes, was Sheriff of the county in 1813, and was
killed in a duel with Dr. Edward Skull. Benjamin V.
Beckes was 'appointed to fill out the balance of his term and
was twice re-elected to the same office. He was brave to a
fault and commanded troops in the Indian wars in this part
of the country. He was captain of a company in the Black
Hawk war. He also commanded a company at the battle of
Tippecanoe. He was kind and generous to his friends. He
never forgot a friend or forgave an enemy. He served in the
State Legislature several terms. He was a Democrat in poli-
tics and took a deep interest in all political matters. He was
a member of the Catholic church at his death and was buried
in the Catholic cemetery.
GEORGE E. GREENE.
He was born in Bardstown, Kentucky, July 12, 1826, of
Irish parentage. He learned the printers trade and in 1837
208 A History op Vincennes.
was employed in the office of the Louisville Journal, then
conducted by the celebrated George D. Prentice. He re-
mained here until the fall of 1856, when he came here and
purchased the Western Sun newspaper. That paper when
he purchased it was entirely run down, and its publication
suspended. Mr. Greene soon resurrected it and made it one
of the most influential papers in the state. When he came
here the parties were about equally divided in politics. But
Mr. Greene took the lead and management of party affairs.
He attended all conventions and public meetings of the party
and planned all campaigns. He managed affairs so success-
fully that the Democratic party soon had a majority of 1200
in the county. He was a magnetic man and attracted to him
all persons with whom he came in contact. He was appointed
Registrar of the Land Office here and remained in office until
the records were destroyed by fire in April, 1860. He was
elected by the Legislature one of the directors of the Indiana
State Prison at Jeffersonville, for a term of four years. In
1809 he was elected Mayor of the City of Vincennes. He was
a very social man and a welcome guest at all social functions.
He was a member of the Catholic church and was buried in
the Catholic cemetery. He died October 15, 1870.
LEWIS L. WATSON.
Mr. Watson is one of the oldest and most highly respected
citizens of Vincennes. He was born in Vincennes on the 13th
clay of April, 1809. His father, Robert G. Watson, was of
Scotch descent and was a prominent merchant and fur trader
of Vincennes. His mother, Genevieve Watson, was descended
from one of the oldest French families, who came here as
early as 1701. Mr. Watson received but limited educational
advantages in his youth, but in after life by study and appli-
cation, he acquired a fine business education which he uti-
lized in his business affairs. In 1826 he went to St. Louis
Distinguished Personnel. 209
and learned the tailors trade. He soon returned to his native
town to follow his trade, hut in 1832 he returned to St. Louis,
but in 1832 returned to Vincennes and has resided here ever
since. He worked at his trade in partnership with the late
Samuel E. Dunn until 1849, when he was appointed by Presi-
dent Taylor, postmaster at Vincennes. He continued in this
office until 1853. He then was appointed Collector of Tolls
of the Wabash Navigation Company at the lock and dam of
the Wabash Eiver, at the grand rapids. He then served for
a short time as the conductor of a passenger train on the
Evansville and Crawfordsville Eailroad, now known as the
Evansville and Terre Haute Eailroad. He was soon pro-
moted and appointed agent of the railroad at Vincennes. He
also at the same time carried on a lumber yard in partnership
with the late Charles Dawes. In 1859 he was appointed pay-
master and supply agent of the Ohio and Mississippi Eail-
road, which he resigned in 1871, to take an active part in the
hotel business in partnership with the late Isaac Mass and
with him established the Union Depot Hotel which
business he still carries on in partnership with his
son, Edward Watson. Mr. Watson by an energetic
and prudent business career, has accumulated a large
fortune until he is now reputed as one of the
wealthiest men in Vincennes. Hs is a member of the
Eoman Catholic church and in politics is a Democrat. He
was married November 6, 1832, to Lydia Fellows, a daughter
of Captain Willis Fellows. To this union twelve children
were born, four sons and two daughters are yet living. Mr.
Watson at his advanced age still survives and continues to
act as a director of the First National Bank of Vincennes,
one of the largest banking institutions in the city.
A History op Vincennes.
GEORGE WALLACE JONES.
He was born in Vincennes on April 12, 1804. He was the
son of John Rice Jones, who was a native of Wales. . He was
educated at Transylvania University, Lexington, Kentucky.
He left Vincennes and first went to Missouri, but in 1827, he
moved to Sissinewa Mound, Wisconsin. In 1829 he married
Josephine G-regoire of St. Genevieve, Missouri. He served in
John Rice Jones.
the Black Hawk war on Gov. Dodge's staff. In 1835 he was
elected delegate to Congress from Michigan, and re-elected in
1837. In 1840 he was appointed Surveyor General at Du-
buque. In 1848 he was elected to the United States Senate
from Iowa, holding the position eleven years. In 1859 he was
appointed Minister to Bogota. He died at Dubuque, Iowa,
July 22, 1896, and was bnried in Mt. Olivet cemetery.
He was born in Ireland, but he always claimed that he was
born on an American ship on the ocean on his way to this
country. But after his death his naturalization papers taken
out in the Marine Court of Baltimore, were found by his
Distinguished Personnel. 21 L
administrator. His rich Irish brogue detected his ancestry.
In the heated political contest of 1844, his vote was chal-
lenged and he was called upon to produce his naturalization
papers. This he refused to do claiming to be an American
citizen. This challenge came near producing a riot which
was only prevented by the challenge being withdrawn. He
came to Vincennes very rich and engaged in merchandizing.
But possessing a diamond mind and fine education, he soon
drifted into politics. He was a fluent and versatile speaker.
He was elected to many positions under the borough. He
was also frequently elected a member of the Senate and
House of the Indiana Legislature. He was also elected to
Congress for two terms from this district. Being a ready
speaker his services were in constant demand during the
campaigns of 1840 and 1844, and he made a speech almost
every day in some part of Indiana or Illinois. He was of a
very excitable disposition which prevented him accomplish-
ing the good his talents would otherwise have enabled him to
do. Mr. Ewing before his death had gotten away with all his
estate and in his last days was an object of charity. He
never married and lived a lonely life. He died April 6, 1858,
and was buried in the city cemetery in a lot by himself and
thus sleeps his last sleep as solitary as he lived.
WILLIAM E. NIBLACK.
He was born in Dubois County, Indiana, May 19, 1823.
He studied law and commenced the practice at Mt. Pleasant,
then the county seat of Martin County. He was elected from
Martin County to the State Legislature and also to the Sen-
ate of Indiana. He declined a re-election to the Senate. In
1854 he was appointed Judge of the Judicial Circuit Court
in which Knox County was situated and came here to reside.
While still on the bench of the Circuit Court he was nomi-
nated by the Democrats for Congress and was elected without
212 A HlSTOKY OP VlNCEXNES.
opposition. He was re-elected a member of Congress by large
popular majorities until his service in Congress was fourteen
years. He was also elected in 1862 a member of the House
of representatives in the Indiana Legislature. After his
congressional career be was nominated in 1876 as the Demo-
cratic candidate for Judge of the Supreme Court of Indiana
and was elected. On the expiration of his first term he was
re-elected and thus served on that exalted tribunal twelve
years. He was a candidate for re-election in 1888 but went
down with his party in the defeat of that year. This was the
first and only defeat at an election before the people he ever
sustained. All the official positions he occupied seemed to
come to him unasked for. He was the most successful candi-
date before the people the state has ever produced. After his
defeat for Supreme Judge in 1888, he removed to Indiana-
polis, as it presented a wider field for the practice of his pro-
fession. He soon came into a large practice which was
abruptly terminated by his death May 7, 1893. His remains
were buried in Crown Hill cemeter} r at Indianapolis.
He was a native of New London, Connecticut, where he
was born October 24, 1796. He came to Vincennes and lo-
cated for the practice of law in 1817. He rose rapidly at the
bar and in public estimation. For more than a quarter of a
century he was the central figure in all enterprises and pro-
jects calculated to advance Vincennes. He was its first his-
torian and being a fine orator he held a high place in the
councils of his party and was generally alluded to as the
favorite son of Knox County. He was Prosecuting Attorney
and Judge of the Knox Circuit Court, Eeceiver of Public
Monies for this district, United States Commissioner to ad
just land titles in this district and a member of Congress for
two terms. A short time before his death he removed toj
Evansville to look after the landed interests of a In-other who
resided in Connecticut. But he always cherished a love and
affection for Yincennes and wished to be buried here. He
married Sarah Swing, a daughter of Nathaniel Ewing. He
died October 7, 1873, at Evansville, Indiana, and accord-
ing to his request his remains were brought here and buried
in the city cemetery.
THOMAS R. COBB.
He was born in Lawrence County, Indiana, July 2, 18.28.
He studied law and commenced the practice at Bedford, In-
diana, in 1853. In 1SR7 he removed to Yincennes and in
partnership with Newton F. Malott commenced the practice
here. This firm soon secured a large and profitable business. In
1870 Mr. Malott was elected Judge of the Knox Circuit
Court. The business of the late firm was successfully con-
tinued by Mr. Cobb until 1876, when he was elected to Con-
gress from this district. He was re-elected to Congress by
214 A History op Vincennes.
successive elections for ten consecutive years. Before he came
here to reside he had been elected to the State Senate of In-
diana and was a prominent and influential member of that
body. After he came here he was elected a member of the
City Council of Vincennes. He was also the Democratic can-
didate for presidential elector in 1868 and made a thorough
canvass of the district. As a member of Congress he was
chairman of the Committee on Public Lands and through his
exertions., "Harrison Park" was donated by Congress to Vin-
cennes. Mr. Cobb died in 1893 and was buried in the city
The list of the number of distinguished men who have been
connected with Vincennes in the past could be extended, but
time and space forbid.
Prominent Citizens Subsequent to 1800. 215
PARTIAL LIST OF PROMINENT CITIZENS SUBSEQUENT TO 1800.
A partial list of prominent citizens of. Yincennes, subse-
quent to the } r ear 1800.
Cyrus M. Allen, Joseph G. Bowman, William W. Carr, Will-
iam A. Jones, F. W. Yiehe, John M. Boyle, B. N. Carnan,
Bobert F. McConahe}^ John Baker, Xewton F. Malott, J.
C. Denny, John M. Clark, Jonathan Keith, C. B. Kessinger,
Willoughby & House, W. H. & E. H. DeWolf, W. H. Penning-
ton, L. A. Meyer, W. C. Johnson, Samuel W. Williams, Cal-
verley & Judah, Johnson & Hill, B. F. Davis, W. Harrow, Jo-
seph Bandolph, A. L. Harbinson, A. W. McClure, Cullop &
Shaw, A. T. Cobb, Emison & Moffet, M. J. Niblack, W. S.
Hoover, Coulter & Beckes, Haughton & Emison, B. L. Buck-
les, G. G. Beily, Orestes Philipps, H. S. Cauthom, Jr., B. M.
Thomas, James S. Pritchett, John T. Goodman, J. P. L.
Weems, Harry Lewis, C. E. Dailey, Henry Fauntleroy, Cyr
Poullet, Bobert G. Cauthom, John Wilhelm, Charles G.
Dr. Offut, Daniel Stahl, Joseph Browne, John J. Baty, H.
M. Smith, L. M. Beckes, H. W. Held, Patrick Caney, S. C.
Beard, M. G. Moore, Dr. Anderson, Xorman E. Beckes, Jo-
seph Somes, T. H. Maxedon, Georgge Knapp, J. B. Mante,
W. W. Hitt, J. S. Sawyer, O'Connell Fairhurst, M. M. Mc-
Dowell, W. H. Davenport, Dr. Yon Knappe, B. B. Jessup, Dr.
Troost, Dr. McCoy, Dr. Hall, Dr. Smadell, Dr. Branstop,
Hiram Decker, Dr. Harris, J. C. Bever, W. M. Hindman, W.
B. Bidgway, Dr. Stewart, J. P. Bamsey, Solomon Bathbone.
JUSTICES OF THE PEACE.
Frederick Graeter, Elihu Stout, Samuel Hill, Martin Bob-
216 A History of Vincennes.
inson, John B. Martin, David McHenry, Milton L. Edson,
Zacliariah Pulliem, James S. Mayes, Thomas Reilly, Joseph
Woodman, George W. McCoy, E. A. Baecher, Edward Wei-
sert, Joseph Fowee, John Collins.
REAL ESTATF AGENTS.
Benjamin F. Wheeler, Henry W. Alexander, H. J. Foulks,
W. L. Tewalt, Haines & Simonson, John Stork, J. S. Spiker.
Thomas Alexander, Henry M. Shaw, Michael E. Shawe,
John F. Smith, Eli B. Smith, Aaron Woods, Elijah Whitten,
Thomas J. Clark, Aegedins Merz, P. B. O'Connor, Thomas
McLaughlin, W. H. Carter, B. B. Killykelly.
Peter Jones, Mark Barnett, Christian G-raeter, John C.
Clark, Royal H. Gould, William Busse, George Weisenberger,
Edward Lindner, Edward Watson, Charles W. Padgett, Par-
menas Beckes, Patrick Doran, Hyacinthe Lasselle, Thomas J.
Beeler, John Kuhn.
John D. Hay, William Meuire, Blum, Bernard & Co.,
George Davis, Tomlinson & Rose, John K. Kuntz, H. D.
Wheeler, Burtch & Heberd, J. S. & W. J. Wise, Smith & Car-
son, Rose & Harper, Bedford, Shelmiere & Co., Samuel Bru-
nei', David S. Bonner, Thorn & Tracy, G. Cruikshank & Co.,
Robert Smith & Co., A. W. Morris, Luck & Landel, Adam
Gimbel, M. D. Lacroix, Charles Graeter, John Caldwell, Will-
iam Hays, J. W. Maddox, Theodore Huslage, Isaac Joseph,
John B. & Peter E. LaPlante, Charles A. Weisert, Gerhard
Reiter, L. B. Smith, James T. Cox, Curry & Coons, E. G.
Gardner, Frank Horsting, Henry Soete, N\ Smith & Sons, Wil-
kins & Robinson, Page & Orr, Thing & Potter, W. J. Heberd
& Sons, H. P. Brokaw, J. & H. Ostendorf, B. Kuhn & Co.,
Prominent Citizens Subsequent to 1800. 217
J. C. Cohen, W. E. Browne, & Co., H. T. Eoseman, George
Kerkhoff & Co., Harvey Mason & Co., Emison & Green, John
A. Louis, William Huey, J. H. Shepard & Co., E. B. Banis-
dell, Edward Bierhaus & Sons, Bierhaus Bros., Moore & Har-
ris, F. W. Tweitmeyer, Hall Bros., John Burke, J. W. Cassell,
H. J. Hellert, F. W. Ritterskamp, John Hoffman, Christian
Hoffman, Bernard & Beckes, J. & T. Hayes, B. Emirihm,
G. Weinstein & Co., L. A. Wise & Co., H. Willoughby & Son,
S. Blum & Co., Perry Tindolph, Fred Harsh, Charles S. Mil-
ler, Isaac Lazurus, H. J. Watjen, W. A. Markee, J. M.
Duesterberg, M. Bauer, V. Schoenfield, William Davidson, J.
Bernstein, J. H. Dunn, J. A. Breivogel, Joseph Ohnemus, H.
F. Thuis, Sebastian Bisch & Sons, Risch & Heller, Henry
Badollet, 0. C. Busse, W. W. Cassell, G. R. Alsop, William
Baker, John Turney, George W. Donaldson, Robinson & Don-
aldson, W. J. Freeman, M. O'Donnell, John Loten, Salyards
& Burns, John Hartigan, R. M. Glass, J. & S. Emison, T. H.
Adams, R. E. Purcell, W. W. Bailey & Bros., A. V. Crotts,
W. J. Nicholson, A. Kapps, George Klein, C. H. Blase, C. J.
Lipe, A. Philipson, Racey & Palfrey, Bratton & Racey, L.
Moves, C. F. Schultz, C. Lane, J. S. Kitchell, Burnet & East-
ham, William H. Glover & Co., James A. Plummer, Speigle
& Gardner, P. R. McCarthy, John Watson, S. R. Jackman,
Gimbel Haughten & Bond, Georgge Fendrich, Joseph Smith,
E. Younghans, John Schwartz, Frank A. Hines, M. Tyler
Son & Co., Hiram A. Foulks, Miller & Shepard, H. M. Hack-
man, Geo. Harris, P. Eluere & Sons, J. B. Ramsdell, Frank
Krack, George Harris, P. Eluere & Sons, J. F. Sechler & Co.,
A. Marone, John Kuhn, H. M. Townsley, D. J. Philips, Nor-
man, E. Beckes, J. W. Emison & Co., F. J. Trengaw, A. J.
Taylor, -John Murphy, Thomas Kilfoil, Thomas Borrowman,
E. L. Ryder, F. M. Mail, W. Tromley, Merchant Bros., Peter
Marchino, F. A. Yocum, Planke Bros., E. E. Shores, J. C.
Haartze, Moses Wile, Auton Lahr, John C. Holland, Charles
218 A HlSTOKY OP VlNCEISfNES.
Dawes., Henry Schaffer, M. Johnson & Co., W. H. Weed, Al-
bert M. & Edward Shepard, Isaac jST. Eastham, A. L. Corno-
yer, W. B. Eobinson, A. M. Yelton, James Ewing, Patrick
Moore, Morgan Jones, 0. McCone, S. & J. Lyons, Lyttleton
Timms, Samuel Miller, Ben Fritch, Eugene Hack, Anton
Simon, Frank Liberman, 0. B. Wietzell, William William-
son, E. J. McKenney, Will L. Tewalt, V. Geese, John B.
Brouillette, W. W. Berry, John W.Carnan, Emanuel Meisen-
helter, E. Y. Caddington, Isaac Lazarus, William Nugent,
John Vickery, Jacob Metzger, F. M. Fay, Alexander Von
Smith, Martin Agnew, James W. Greenhow, John Myers,
Herman Brokhage, George W. Eathbone, Samuel Bayard,
Major W. Gould, Nelson Sparrow.
It must be admitted that Vincennes has a past history that
is both venerable and honorable and that places her in the
front rank among the cities of the state. It is true that for
years she was held in abeyance by a sort of Rip Van Winkle
sleep that paralyzed her energies and prevented her material
progress. But this condition of affairs on account of the in-
fusion of new blood consequent upon the arrival of active
and enterprising citizens has been arrested and the ancient
city aroused from her long lethargy, has entered upon a splen-
did career of progress. The old order of things has been done
away and a new and active era has been evolved from this
change of population. The hard working and prudent Ger-
man, the energetic and proliiic Irishman and many other
races from Europe have come and infused new life in the mass
of our population. The influence is producing good results
in the many evidences of prosperity and accomplished results.
The money making Yankee and the discerning Jew can be
seen on our streets. In fact everything today is indicative of
a glorious future for the City of Vincennes.
But this bright prospect although long delayed might have
been expected from the opinions of the place and its natural
advantages expressed by the missionary fathers who first vis-
ited it before the advent of civilized men and when it was in
the midst of a vast wilderness. These men were far seeing
and almost with prophetic vision foretold the future of vari-
ous places they visited in their wanderings. In no instance
have their prophetic utterances failed of fruition unless it
shall be in the solitary instance of Vincennes. They declared
that the site of this place when they first beheld it was des-
220 A History of Vincennes.
tined on account of its surroundings to become in course of
time the seat of a great city, possessing an extensive commerce,
great wealth and a dense population. They made the same
prophetic utterances with reference to Pittsburg, Cincinnati,
Louisville, Detroit, Chicago, St. Paul, St. Louis, San Fran-
cisco and many other cities, which have since, all verified
their predictions. And why should their opinions with regard
to Vincennes not be realized ? Its splendid location and im-
mediate surroundings indicate that the city will in the future
go forward with gigantic strides. There is nothing in nature
or political conditions in the way of its accomplishment. If
the citizens will all take heart and put their shoulder to the
wheel of progress, it will roll forward with increasing speed
year by year. Everything at present indicates that we are on
the eve of the realization of golden dreams and that the dull
and monotonous past will be swallowed up and obliterated
from memory in the brilliant achievement of the opening
future. That this will be an accomplished fact we have no
more doubt than we have when we see the sun sink behind the
western horizon at nightfall, that it will rise again on the
morrow, with undimmed brilliancy. All that is necessary is
for all the citizens to work together in harmony and with
united action for its accomplishment and it will be accom-
No. )IU) Sect. ^ Shelf_
Lincoln National Life Foundation
Collateral Lincoln Library